Sir David Attenborough has named it one of his favorite places on Earth and the world will soon see why through an immersive virtual tour of the iconic Flinders Ranges.
UniSA geologist Tom Raimondo is virtually documenting the geoscientific importance of the landscape 600 million years ago in support of the SA government’s candidacy for world heritage.
The 360-degree tour will take viewers on a journey through deep geological time, illustrating why this ancient landscape has captured the world’s attention, not only for scientific reasons, but also for its rich heritage. aboriginal and miner.
Associate Professor Raimondo says the virtual tour, which will be created as part of UniSA STEM’s Project LIVE initiative, will showcase the remarkable diversity of Flinders areas.
“It is the best place in the world to witness the increase in animal life on Earth, preserved as Ediacarus fossils that were first discovered by Reg Sprigg in 1946 and are now our state fossil emblem.” says Professor Raimondo. “The story of life began in the Flinders Mountains, and its rocks are like the pages of history we can read.”
The scale and grandeur of this ancient landscape will be revealed through 3D cantilevers that will allow users to get a bird’s eye view of Ikara (Wilpena Pound), discovering how it was formed by massive warping forces.
“The action doesn’t stop there: we’ll show users how a giant asteroid crashed into South Australia about 580 million years ago, leaving a crater on Lake Acraman and depositing debris more than 300 kilometers away to the Bunyeroo gorge.
“Then, from fire to ice, we will reveal how the Earth froze and glaciers began to slowly and inexorably form hills and valleys, leaving behind unequivocal evidence of their journey through the landscape,” says the Assoc. Prof. Raimondo.
A separate topic will document the fossil geothermal site of Arkaroola, perhaps the longest active geothermal region on Earth, where users will explore the Paralana hot springs and Mount Gee.
It will also show the mining history of the region, with users taking a deep underground journey to the Blinman Heritage mine, discovering the harsh realities of mining life for many early settlers, but also the economic boom that copper brought in South Australia during its best part. of a century.
“We are interested in showing how the initial exploration of copper mineralization initiated in the Flinders Mountains eventually led to the discovery of one of the largest deposits of copper, uranium, gold and rare earths in the world at the Olympic Dam,” says Professor Raimondo.
The virtual reality project is in its initial phase and will take two years to complete, meeting the deadline that UNESCO has given to the SA government to support its claim for the mountains of Flinders to be listed as heritage of humanity.
In April, it was given provisional status, which brought it closer to joining world icons such as Yosemite National Park and the Galapagos Islands to the World Heritage record.
The Flinders Ranges project is the latest virtual tour developed by UniSA’s LIVE Project, after Beyond the Ice, a gamified geological expedition from Hallett Cove, which became an international success, accessed by users from 57 countries. .
Phase 1 of the project has been funded with generous private donations and the LIVE Project team is actively seeking more support to expand into Phase 2 and involve stakeholders from the environmental, mining, tourism and heritage sectors.
“UniSA’s experience in the virtual and augmented reality space allows us to capture such iconic and iconic places globally in a truly engaging, entertaining and educational way,” says Professor Raimondo.
“We see this virtual tour as the perfect vehicle to bring the Flinders Ranges closer to a global audience, show everyone what a special place we live in and, in doing so, maximize the benefits and economic opportunities available to this region by celebrating its true world of class geology and paleontology “.
Notes for editors
You can watch a teaser of the 360-degree tour of the Flinders Mountains, focusing on the topic of mining heritage, at https://youtu.be/VpNHfEHamvs
Images of the Prof Raimondo Association and 360-degree images are also available to the media via the following links attributed to UniSA:
The UniSA STEM Project LIVE team is led by Associate Professor Tom Raimondo, a 2019 Science of the Year science educator, 2017 ABC Top 5 Under 40, and Young Tall Poppy of Science.
Project LIVE is a STEM initiative from the University of South Australia that uses the power of virtual reality to bring field experiences from across Australia and the world to the classroom and the community at large (https://www.projectlive .org.au /)