Travel back in time with this virtual tour of a 600-million-year-old landscape

Travel back in time with this virtual tour of a 600-million-year-old landscape

One of Australia’s most iconic landscapes can now be explored virtually, thanks to a University of South Australia (UniSA) project documenting the geological and cultural significance of the Flinders Ranges, a 600-year-old rock formation millions of years ago.

Led by geologist Tom Raimondo, a professor at UniSA, the project was developed as part of a STEM-focused initiative called Projeto LIVE.

The program supports South Australia’s application for recognition of the site as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in 2024.

“The launch of this immersive virtual tour marks an important step in opening up the Flinders Mountain Range to the international community,” Raimondo said in a statement. “Eventually, their UNESCO World Heritage status will allow them to rub shoulders with icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Yosemite National Park.”

According to the professor, the Flinders Ranges have a fascinating history, cultural heritage and scientific value. “It is the home of our first animal ancestors, the Ediacaran organisms, and we have unlocked half a billion years of life history through the power of virtual reality. Now anyone around the world can see why this landscape is so special and unique.

Raimondo explains that the virtual tour takes viewers on a journey over rugged mountain ranges, discovering how they were formed. It also takes them underground through historic tunnels to meet the challenges of early copper miners. The adventure also includes a virtual dive to the bottom of the Ediacaran Sea, home to Earth’s first animals.

Ediacaran fossils are unique to the Flinders Ranges and are an essential component of the World Heritage nomination. From 2023, school children in South Australia will discover these fossils as part of a science programme.

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“We have worked with the Science Teachers Association of South Australia, the Department of Education and the Ediacara Foundation to produce content for this new resource inspired by the virtual tour,” Raimondo explained.

He said students will be able to see 3D reconstructions of the ancient animals and actually swim through their deep-sea habitat. Referring to famous Australian geologists. .

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