Antarctica is home to glorious mountain ranges wrapped in glacial ice. If you at them long enough, you might start to notice a strange geometric pattern — some of the peaks are oddly, perfectly pyramid-shaped. This, if you belong to certain corners of the internet, can only mean one thing: aliens.

Both pyramids and Antarctica feature heavily in extraterrestrial conspiracies, so it’s really no surprise that the existence of these features, clearly visible on Google Earth, would cause a stir. As it happens, though, they’re completely natural, and not all that rare.

Pyramid-shaped peaks are the normal conclusion of erosion in heavily glaciated areas. Glaciers adjacent to mountains will, over time, eat away bowl-shaped features called cirques. When this process to take place on three, four, or more sides of a mountain simultaneously, eventually the cirques will converge on a single peak. The longer these erosional forces act on the peak, the more symmetrical the pyramid shape becomes.

Antarctica pyramid mountain UFO base
No alien conspiracy to see here.

If you zoom out slightly on Google Earth, it’s easy to see how these same erosional forces are affecting the entire range of mountains in a similar way. It is just an accident of nature that at this particular moment in space and time, the pyramidal shape has emerged so clearly.

Secretary of State John Kerry became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Antarctica this month, and according to YouTuber thirdphaseofmoon that is proof positive that something very secret and important is happening there. He dismisses out of hand the stated reason — that Kerry’s visit was to highlight the threats of global warming and climate change.

Conspiracy theorists who believe that the Earth is flat tend to share the view that Antarctica forms a circular ring around the edges of a disk of land and sea, where NASA officials guard the secret and keep us from falling into oblivion. The Egyptian pyramids, and geometry in general, feature heavily in theories that intelligent aliens have visited our planet, and that perhaps King Tutankhamun himself was part extraterrestrial.

Pointing to natural objects that appear to be sculpted by intelligent design is another preferred tactic of conspiratorial manipulation. A video that suggested all mountains on Earth are the fossilized stumps of a gigantic, magnificent forest recently gained enormous traction among the sort of folks who cling to these sorts of ideas.

Conspiracy theorists aren’t nuts, but they’re vulnerable to the sorts of errors in logic that make you trust what feels emotionally true over what the evidence can actually support. The boring truth remains: global warming is real, the Earth is round, and the hunt for intelligent extraterrestrial life continues.

Photos via Google Earth (1, 2)