SYDNEY (AFP) - A South Pacific island identified on Google Earth and world maps does not exist, according to Australian scientists who went searching for the mystery landmass during a geological expedition.

The sizeable phantom island in the Coral Sea is shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and Google maps and is supposedly midway between Australia and the French-governed New Caledonia.

The Times Atlas of the World appears to identify it as Sable Island. Weather maps used by the Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime research vessel, also say it exists, according to Dr Maria Seton.

But when the Southern Surveyor, which was tasked with identifying fragments of the Australian continental crust submerged in the Coral Sea, steamed to where the island was supposed to be, it was nowhere to be found.

“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,” Seton, from the University of Sydney, told AFP after the 25-day voyage.