Mysterious ‘phantom island’ keeps appearing and disappearing on Google Maps, scientists stumped

New DelhiEdited By: C KrishnasaiUpdated: May 08, 2022, 05:20 PM IST
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When a group of scientists went to see the island in the Southern Pacific, they were left baffled by what they discovered 

For several years, scientists have been left baffled by a strange phenomenon occurring on Google Maps.

A small strip of island located between Australia and New Caledonia in the South Pacific has been an enigma, as it keeps appearing and disappearing.

Mind you, this is not a technical fault, as this strange island had every indication of a landmass through satellite view.

Many called it the Sandy Island or ‘phantom island’ that was first found mentioned in British Explorer Captain James Cook's Chart of Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean all the way back in 1776, The Daily Express newspaper reports.

According to reports, it was spotted again 100 years later in 1895, with many believing that the island was 14.9 miles long and 3.1 miles wide.

The mystery was finally unravelled on November 22, 2012, when Australian scientists on the R/V Southern Surveyor found nothing but the sea.

Scientists recorded the ocean depths to be more than 4,300 feet, suggesting that there was no chance of anything lurking under the ocean that would previously have been visible.

And four days later, the island was removed from Google Maps.

Maria Seton, of the University of Sydney, told AFP: "We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400 metres (4,620 feet) in that area – very deep.

“It's on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island.”

"We're really puzzled, it's quite bizarre.”

However, if one were to search the island through the exact coordinates on any maps, a small lump could still be seen in the ocean.

So far, there is no official explanation as to why one could still sight the so-called Sandy Island, but there is a leading theory which suggest that the island may have been the floating remains of a submerged volcano or coastal subaerial eruption.