From Wikipedia I found the coordinates of the Devil's Tower, which is an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The coordinates are 28°12′32″N, 88°44′15″W.

When I enter these coordinates into Google Earth, I see just the empty ocean, no gas platform.

I tried to do the same with some other oil platforms, such as Statfjord at 61°15′20″N, 1°51′14″E, and again I see nothing.

What is the reason for this? Is it just that the satellite images acquired of the oceans are low resolution?

  • 1
    Acquiring full-resolution images of the ocean is an easy way to triple the amount of images you need to capture and store.
    – Nick T
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 20:32
  • 4
    satellite imagery on that sort of scale is generally stitched - shots from multiple satellite flyovers, amalgamated into one. year before last, this effect caused the loch ness monster to appear in a Google Earth image.
    – user84138
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 21:15

3 Answers 3


You can not see oil platforms in oceans because Google Earth shows the underwater terrain (bathymetry). In ocean area you see the seafloor. In land or coast area you see an aerial or satellite image.

  • Indeed; it wouldn't be a good use of resources to photograph thousands of square miles of endless ocean from above :) Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 12:38
  • How come folks saw Sail Rock and thought it was a Sea Monster? (On closer look I guess it's just close enough to the Coast for Aerial) Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 15:35

As Jens said, Google Earth doesn't show you satellite or aerial images for ocean areas. However, the European Space Agency provides global imagery from its Sentinel 2 mission, which covers the oceans and has a high enough resolution to show oil platforms:

Sentinel-2A imagery of Devil's Tower

Sentinel-2A imagery of platforms in the Statfjord oil field


These are all out of date. Yes, you can see oil rigs off the coast of California. Actually for the past few years. They are in lines of 4 Starting around Santa Barbara.

oil rigs off the coast of California

  • 1
    when you say These are all out of date to what are you referring?
    – nmtoken
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 15:56

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