Grid pattern in China desert COULD be prospecting for nickel deposits

Mysterious Grid Patterns in China’s Deserts Explained | LiveScience.

A mysterious grid of dots spanning several miles of Western China’s sand dunes like a giant chessboard may be the result of geological surveys for nickel mines, according to new analysis of satellite images of the area.

“In the satellite maps, we can see a man-made texture on the soil, a huge band which seems created by relatively small holes or mounds,” wrote the study author, Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a physicist at Italy’s Polytechnic University of Turin, on Oct. 25 on the website arXiv.org, ahead of publication to a scientific journal.

The strange pattern was clearly man-made. In older imagery from Bing and Nokia Maps taken prior to 2004, the strange pattern wasn’t visible, indicating the shapes appeared more recently.

Sparavigna then found an article in the Chinese press describing the discovery of large amounts of nickel buried under the dunes. She concluded the new shapes must be evidence of geological surveying done prior to mining the nickel reserves. Geologists often drill boreholes to determine the composition of mineral deposits below the surface.

This is excellent – a logical explanation. Makes sense. Drill holes do go in patterns. I still have questions though. Why sample in a grid like this? I’m unclear on that. Second, Amelia Carolina Sparavigna’s whole thing seems to be to search on Google Earth for odd things. I’m not convinced yet this is the right explanation for this anomaly.

She connected the grid pattern with a media article on nickel deposits. That seems tenuous. So, for now, I’ll hold this explanation provisionally. It COULD be the right one.

Photo credit: Amelia Carolina Sparavigna/Google Earth

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  2 comments for “Grid pattern in China desert COULD be prospecting for nickel deposits

  1. Jim Price
    November 7, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    Checking the satellite imagery, this pattern extends for about 3.5 miles in a nearly straight north/south line, and is followed the entire distance by a road. At the northern end there are what appear to be three large quarrying operations. Common sense would dictate there is a relationship. I can’t imagine why Sparavigna would think there is anything mysterious about this.

    • November 7, 2012 at 7:41 AM

      I don’t think she does, does she?

      Since this information you provided was NOT in the article, now it does seem more reasonable. I was the one who needed more info. Always good to have more before judging the claim.

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