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10 January 2010
Australian crater located thanks to folklore and Google maps

Duane Hamacher, a doctoral candidate at Macquarie University, used ancient folklore from an Australian Aboriginal people and modern Google maps to locate a meteorite crater in central Australia.
     Hamacher investigates how the Australian Aboriginal peoples have incorporated the darkened sky above their lands into their ancient cultures. He looks at paintings, stone arrangements, historical literature, and other ancient folklore to understand their cultures with respect to astronomy, archaeoastronomy, and ethnoastronomy. Hamacher has incorporated ancient Arrernte dreaming stories and modern Google maps to find a bowl-shaped meteorite crater at Palm Valley.
     Palm Valley is located about 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Alice Springs, which is located near the southern border of the Northern Territory, and near the geographical center of Australia. The traditional inhabitants of the area, the Arrernte, live in the Central Australian desert around the Alice Springs area. And the ancient story that led Hamacher to the discovery of the impact crater came from the Arrernte people. They have lived in the region for at least 20,000 years.
     The ancient stories told by the local Arrernte people described how a star had fallen into a waterhole called Puka. So, Hamacher found the crater by following the descriptions in these traditional Arrernte stores. "What I decided to do was look on Google Earth, Google Maps and check that area out and see if there was any impact crater that could be seen, and there happened to be a giant bowl-shaped structure right smack in the middle of Palm Valley that looked just like a meteorite crater," Hamacher said.

Source: ITWire (29 December 2009)

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