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Keywords:

  • marine geophysics;
  • bathymetry;
  • satellite data;
  • Sandy Island

In October 2012, scientists investigating the tectonic evolution of the eastern Coral Sea aboard the R/V Southern Surveyor uncovered a quirky discrepancy in maps of seafloor topography during their 25-day voyage. While on a transit leg between dredge sites, the ship passed near a purported island between the Chesterfield Islands and Nereus Reef that appeared in numerous scientific data sets and in Google Earth™ with the label “Sandy Island.” However, this 25-kilometer-long and 5-kilometer-wide feature was absent from the hydrographic charts used by the master onboard the ship for navigation.