The phantom island that exists

General discussion of mapmaking.

The phantom island that exists

Postby daan » Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:50 pm

A research team claims to have undiscovered a large island in the South Pacific’s Coral Sea near New Caledonia, called Sandy Island. Unfortunately, I have rediscovered it, and so can you. This is a farce. There is, in fact, a massive sand bar at the location the crew of the RV Southern Surveyor claims to show a depth of 1,400 m. I can confirm this by referencing multiple, independent data sources, including satellite imagery, bathymetry data from multiple sources, and shoreline vector data from multiple sources.† Of course Wikipedia has picked up on this with a dizzying churn of edits in one day. Amusingly it’s all just a big misunderstanding and eventually will be revealed to be so.
Example of a news media article
Wikipedia article

So, the question is: How did this misunderstanding arise? I don’t think a datum mismatch can account for it; the sand bar is 30 km × 6 km in extent.

— daan

  • World Vector Shoreline
  • World Databank II
  • NASA Blue Marble satellite imagery
  • SRTM30 Plus, with bathymetry consisting of the Smith & Sandwell global grid, the DLEO Ridge Multibeam Synthesis Project, the JAMSTEC Data Site for Research Cruises, and the NGDC Coastal Relief Model
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