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Simpson Desert’s ancient rivers mapped

Australia: Australian scientists have charted some of the world’s oldest rivers and streams that flowed through the Simpson Desert 50 million years ago. Using a digital software, experts from Canberra’s Australian National University have mapped the underlying landscape for the first time. They have uncovered a network of long-buried rivers and streams in the heart of the country – estimated to be among the world’s oldest.

Buried up to 35 metres below the surface and preserved largely due to Australia’s dry and stable environment, standard remote sensing methods were not able to detect it.

Given that Australia was once much wetter and greener than today, it has always been assumed the Simpson was once dotted with streams and bodies of water. But it is the first time science has been able to reveal the evidence. Of the network itself, “it’s vast and runs hundreds of kilometres,” the ANU’s Mike Hutchinson told Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Professor Hutchinson now hopes the software will be used to look into the future as well as into the past. Geoscientists should find it of use in dealing with modern drainage structures. It’s already being used as part of the federal government’s national water preservation programme.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald