I’ve recently been very interested in globe-trotting via Google Earth. At first I was using it to plan out hikes to possible mineral deposits locally, or potential fossils/ archeology sites. However I soon became sidetracked in the Tombouctou Region of Mali. I stumbled across an outcrop of rock in the middle of the desert. It appears to be brilliant blue.

I am wondering if this is some kind of satellite imagery to detect heat or moisture? Or is this the actual colour of rock/mineral?

First image

Second image

Third image

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you could provide us with a more specific location? $\endgroup$
    – bon
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because not enough information is given to provide a satisfactory answer. $\endgroup$
    – bon
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ Short of providing eastings and northings of this location. I’ve provided Region and Province. How may I provide to be of more assistance? I’m new to the site. I’m still processing the terms and ways to formulate Q:/A: aswell coments. Kind Reguards $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah coordinates to the location would be a nice. $\endgroup$
    – Communisty
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 7:53
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    $\begingroup$ @bon Can you see coordinates at the bottom of two of the images? $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Those blue colors are basically artefacts due to image processing.

The last one in Bing Maps doesn't look blue at all. It's just somehow slightly darker with some trees or large animals. The local change of color might be caused by humidity (maybe a seasonal pond) or animals, or both - if animals come to drink. Interestingly, there are similar shapes in the area and Bing Maps traces paths converging on them. I don't know how Bing gets those paths (I can't see them in the aerial imaging) but they are consistent with animal paths leading to ponds.

And the second one is just the bed of a dry lake, with salt pans.

The first one lacks coordinates, but we can assume it's just a another color enhanced rather normal piece of desert.


To actually answer the question "I am wondering if this is some kind of satellite imagery to detect heat or moisture? Or is this the actual colour of rock/mineral?", as requested by comments:

The answer is "No, it is neither the colour of rock/mineral or a heat or moisture detector. Blue color is just an artifact due to image processing, as can be seen from comparing those Google Maps images with linked Bing Map images of the same places, which aren't blue at all".

  • $\begingroup$ This is a conflict region so I was wondering if that flower shaped one was possibly a bomb blast $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ The objects in and around the shape might have the clue. Rocks? Cows? Bags? $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ Why the downvote? $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Pere I have downvoted (and whoever else did) because this post does not correctly answer the question. Please edit it to fulfill the expectations the question is asking for. $\endgroup$
    – Eevee
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Imtherealsanic Thanks for your feedback. $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 21:42

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