Want to put on a VR headset and take a trip through deep geological time? Starting today, you can, with the launch of a 360-degree virtual tour of the 600 million year old Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
One of Australia’s most captivating landscapes can now be explored virtually, thanks to a University of South Australia project documenting the geological and cultural significance of the Flinders Ranges.
Led by UniSA geologist Professor Tom Raimondo, the project supports the South African government’s application for World Heritage status for the region, which is due in 2024.
“The launch of this immersive virtual tour marks an important step towards opening up the Flinders Ranges to the international community,” said Professor Raimondo. “Ultimately, UNESCO World Heritage status will allow it to stand alongside icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Yosemite National Park.”
“The Flinders Ranges have a remarkable history, cultural heritage and scientific value. They are home to our earliest animal ancestors, the Ediacaran biota, 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.”
The virtual tour takes viewers on a flight over rugged mountain ranges, discovering how Ikara (Wilpena Pound) was formed; transport viewers underground through historic tunnels to experience the challenges of early copper miners; and including a virtual swim on the Ediacaran seabed, home to the first animals on Earth.
The Ediacaran fossils are unique to the Flinders Range and form a key part of the World Heritage nomination.
From 2023, schoolchildren in South Australia will learn about their meaning by discovering these incredible fossils as part of the Year 8 science curriculum.
“We worked with the South Australian Science Teachers Association, the Department of Education and the Ediacara Foundation to produce content for this new resource taken from the virtual tour.
“Students will be able to view 3D reconstructions of ancient animals and virtually swim through their underwater habitat. This will be the next best thing to bringing 600 million year old fossils back to life and hopefully inspiring a new generation of budding animal geologists to follow in the footsteps of Douglas Mawson and Reg Sprigg.”
The virtual tour was created as part of UniSA STEM’s Project LIVE initiative. More details here: https://www.projectlive.org.au/360-flinders-ranges
Provided by the University of South Australia
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