- Project Background
- Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Mural & Artwork Details
- Digital Concept Model for the Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Sculpture
- Local Indigenous Perspectives
- Connecting Continental Drift to the Rocks of the Region
- As Above So Below – Written by Science Communicator Ben Price
- Rocks of the Mount Magnet Region provided by Dr Michael Wingate
- Shared Ancestry of Mount Magnet’s selected species researched by Science Communicator Gary Muir of Wow Wilderness Tours
- Illustrating Mount Magnets selected species Mali Moir, Ben Beeton & Margarita Menares
- Workshops in collecting local plants for a local Herbarium and Floreligium by Mali Moir
- Tracing Australia’s Ancient Cratons
- The Geological Story of Western Australia featuring the Geological map of WA through time by Dr David Martin
- Vision for Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Tourism in the Region and Astro Rocks 2022
In partnership with traditional owners, local communities and Gondwanalink the Genestreams Songlines Sculptures initiative is a nationwide project between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, community organizations and conservation groups. The vision of founding elder to the project Aunty Carol Pettersen is that the sculptures will form a national tourism trail which will increase an awareness of the importance of the song lines, ecological restoration, cultural restoration, threatened species, and how, through deep time all species are connected.
The project is informed by mapping of the songlines by Dr Noel Nannup. A leader of the Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Project at UWA.
The public art project unites traditional knowledge with western science and seeks to bring both indigenous and non-indigenous artists from communities together.
The Genestreams Songlines Sculpture design is based on a Genestreams model for bringing natural systems back into balance via phylogenetic trees displayed in virtual reality which feature species as totems that users may interact with and plan restoration work into the future as they grow through time. The modeling tool was developed by Ben Beeton at the Australian National University.
Whilst maintaining its functionality Ben modified the model’s shape to function as a public art experience in accord with Aunty Carol Petersen’s ideas for creating public art tourism trails that promote the songlines, bring communities together, promote the local conservation efforts and the regions natural assets.
Just as a coin has two sides, so too does the Genestream Songlines Sculptures. The external Songlines Sculpture component features the work of indigenous artists of the region. The internal Genestreams Sculpture component is an evolutionary tree of selected regional species. This new educational approach visualizes and connects us to the natural world and to each other. We have brought the public art program and the online learning and teaching components together. Just like the Songlines, the first footsteps of this project are taking place in Australia.
To realize Aunty Carol’s vision the Genestreams Songlines Sculptures team seeks to work with communities across Australia. We envisage neighboring communities working together to create networks of Genestreams Songlines Sculptures that celebrate their indigenous culture and the similarities and differences in their ecology and geology.
The first Genestreams Songlines Sculptures was created at Twin Creeks nature reserve in partnership with Gondwana Link.
“A genestream is multi-generational. It is the sum total of a species genepool which flows through space and time. When a genestream stops flowing it means the species is extinct, if it continues to flow it will eventually become a new species, this is the way of things. As custodians of this planet its our shared responsibility to keep the genestreams flowing, not to stop them flowing. We believe that an enhanced national awareness of the songlines of the traditional owners of Australia will help us connect to the land and contribute to fostering a conservation consciousness. By bringing Genestreams on country we can help protect country. ” Ben Beeton.
Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Mural & Artwork Details
Leading up to the Astro Rocks Festival our purpose was to create a cross cultural Genestreams Songlines artwork for Mount Magnet that would tell multiple stories about the perspectives of the traditional owners, the ecology, geology and deep time history of the region. It is our goal that the artwork will be featured in a Genestreams Songlines Sculpture for Mount Magnet. We hope to be opening the Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Sculpture at the Astro Rocks Festival in 2022. This webpage provides information on some of the contributing perspectives that informed the work. For more information on the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture initiative go to http://sciart.com.au/genestreams-sculptures-songlines-trail-initiative/
Digital Concept Model for the Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Sculpture
Local Indigenous Perspectives
Connecting Continental Drift to the Rocks of the Region
Images of plate tectonics at the top of the artwork were sourced from the film “Continental Drift: 3.3 Billion Years”. Embed link below. The rocks of the region pre date a clear understanding of the movement of the continents. In the artwork I have arranged a sequence of paleo maps along the 15 panels at the top of the image. They run in chronological order from 3 billion years ago to less then 100 million years.
As Above So Below – Written by Science Communicator Ben Price
Panel 1 – 2,600 million years: Garden Granite Rock rises about 20m above the sandplain and has a 1km-circumference. This monzogranite is approximately 2.6 billion years old but its weathered domed surface is probably only tens of thousands of years old. As you walk over the rock, look for whitish pink feldspar crystals dotted in the surface and contemplate this: It was formed 4 supercontinents ago, or about 10 galactical years ago. When it comes to supercontinents, Pangea was the last. Before Pangea, there was Rodinia. Before Rodinia, there was Nuna. Before Nuna, there was Kenorland, the first significant gathering of land mass about 2.7 to 2.6 billion years. And yes, and along with the Pilbara, many of the greenstone belts of the Yilgarn also feature strongly in it. Is your head spinning yet? If not, then try this thought! Astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler mission discovered an ancient star known as Kepler-444 that is home to five rocky exoplanets that was formed 11.2 billion years ago, just 2,600 million years after the big bang Two and a half times older than the Earth! 75% as massive as our sun, Kepler-444 is literally in our backyard at about 117 light-years away toward the constellation Lyra. All five Mercury-Venus sized planets orbit swelteringly close around their star in less than ten days, so life as we know it could not exist on these ancient worlds. In any case, this ancient system helps to pinpoint the beginning of the era of planet formation. At this age, from the perspective of mineral evolution, the still-barren Earth had only produced ~1,500 mineral species, mostly derived from crust and mantle reworking and some anoxic biological activity. However, with the occurrence of Kenorland, Earth’s first significant cycle of continental assembly and breakup, and the ensuing Great Oxygenation Event, life arose with such comparative abundance and diversity that it dramatically changed the near-surface environment of our planet. Within 200 million years, the ocean, atmosphere and rocks themselves were forever transformed by growing abundance of oxygen, which in turn lead to the origin, evolution, and radiation of larger oxygen-breathing animals. Today, we have over 5,000 mineral species, which have emerged in parallel with Earth’s transformation driven largely by living organisms.
Panel 2 – 1,700 million years: The estimated age of Procyon, is the brightest star in the constellation of Canis Minor and one of one of Earth’s nearest stellar neighbours at 11.46 light-years. Procyon along with Sirius and Betelgeuse make up the southern hemisphere (near prefect equilateral) Summer Triangle, which is the Winter Triangle up north. Whilst not as old as our Sun, Procyon is nonetheless nearing the end stages of its lifetime, evolving from a normal mature star to the inflated giant stages of old age. Eventually, it will become a red giant star, much larger and brighter than the sun. Out of this fiery furnace of Earth’s formation, the collisional accretion within dusty protoplanetary disc of the nascent solar system coeval with the giant Moon-forming impact event, followed by the late heavy bombardment, emerged the embryonic nuclei of Australia. It was later during the supercontinent cycle of Nuna when Procyon first appeared in the night sky that three ancient cratons, the Pilbara, Yilgarn and Gawler, steadily grew and gradually moved towards the final positions in our continent. The Pilbara and Yilgarn Cratons converged to form the West Australian Craton (WAC) while the Gawler Craton, still part of East Antarctica, merged to form the South Australian Craton (SAC). Meanwhile, the North Australian Craton (NAC) was wrought and compressed progressively from north to south in a series of accordion-like accretionary events against the converging South Australian Craton (SAC).
Panel 3 – 1,300 million years: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, two massive black holes, 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, spun into each other and collided. About 3 times the mass of the sun was instantly converted into gravitational waves – with a peak power output about 50 times that of the whole visible universe. On September 14, 2015, about 1.3 billion years later, these gravitational waves propagating from the direction of (but much farther than) the Magellanic Clouds were first directly detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) here on Earth. This was humanity’s first direct observation of gravitational waves of a binary black hole merger and further confirmation of theory of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, 100 years later. 1.3 billion years ago, the ancient cratons of proto-Australia were also having their own collision! It was during the assembly and stability of Rodinia that the North Australian Craton (NAC), the West Australian Craton (WAC) and then the South Australian Craton (SAC) had amalgamated to become one, and in turn, effectively creating Central Australia. Having been forged upside-down in Northern Hemisphere and fully merged, the proto-Australian continent later turned counterclockwise, to right itself, as it began its inexorable journey into the southern hemisphere.
Panel 4 – 1,200 million years: The estimate age of Altair, the brightest star in the constellation of Aquila. Like Achernar and many large stars, Altair spins so fast that it flattens out into an oblate spheroid. With a rotational period is about 8.9 hours at rotational velocity of about 286 km/s, Altair is spinning at 71.5% of its estimated breakup speed of about 400 km/s. Altair along with Vega and Deneb make up the northern hemisphere Summer Triangle, which is the Winter Triangle down south, visible from July to November towards the north. When Altair first appeared in the night sky, the supercontinent of Rodinia was nearing peak amalgamation with virtually all of Earth’s land clustered tightly together and a much larger ‘superocean’ surrounding it, named ‘Mirovia’. Rodinia was so big and barren, so dry and dusty, so dull, and boring that early life decided it had to do something to make living a bit more interesting, so it invented the precursor to sex. The aptly named Bangiomorpha pubescens, a red alga, may be one of first organisms to sexually reproduce.
Panel 5 – 724 million years: The estimated age of Pollux, is the brightest star in the constellation Gemini and the closest giant star to the Sun at only 34 light years. It is the older twin to Castor, half its age. It shines with a golden glow while Castor appears whiter. First suspected in 1993, astronomers later confirmed the discovery of a planet orbiting Pollux in 2006, named Thestias, just one of the nearest 4,200+ extrasolar planets so far discovered. When it first appeared in the night sky, our planet was about to plunge into a deep freeze with the onset of Snowball Earth. Known as the Cryogenian Period, Earth was extreme as it episodically lurched from icehouse to hothouse. Not just once, not twice, but at least three times ice gathered and encircled the globe and then at least three times it retreated. The global climate swung wildly from arctic to tropical and back again in a struggle of feedback loops and tipping points to fine tune the carbon cycle between the geosphere and biosphere.
Panel 6 – 450 million years: Aristarchus plateau is one of the most geologically diverse places on the Moon! Located near the Moon’s north-western limb, it’s a mysterious raised flat plateau, a giant groove carved by enormous outpourings of lava, fields of explosive volcanic ash, and all surrounded by massive flood basalts. A relatively recent asteroid (or comet) slammed into this geologic wonderland, blowing a giant hole in the ground revealing a cross section of over 3000 meters of geology. Aristarchus crater is located on the southeast edge of the Aristarchus Plateau. This gaping crater is 40 km wide and 3 km deep. The ledges forming the wall of the crater, which look a lot like those of a strip mine, are blocks of pre-impact crustal and surficial rocks that slumped into the crater during the late stages of its formation. A small central peak also rises 300m above the crater floor. It is considered the brightest of the large formations on the lunar surface, with an albedo nearly double that of most lunar features. This is attributable its young age of approximately 450 million years old, allowing little time for space weathering to darken its ejecta blanket. Meanwhile on Earth where Gondwana had amassed in the southern hemisphere, the Ordovician Period was about to come to abrupt end, our planet’s first brush with death. Like the Cambrian, this period experienced one of the largest and most rapid biodiversification events, and then one of the largest mass extinction events, both of which are linked to dramatic physical changes to the environment. First, glaciers engulfed Gondwana, and the planet cooled dramatically, chilling the tropics and mid-latitudes. Sea levels plummeted hundreds of feet. This destroyed vast stretches of the warm, shallow-water habitat that sustained much marine life. Then, the glaciers melted, the planet warmed, and the ocean rose. The species that had just adapted to the cold struggled once again to evolve fast enough. It’s unclear what triggered these sudden changes. The onset of mountain building and/or the rapid proliferation of plants may have drawn down on so much atmospheric cardon dioxide that global temperatures may have plummeted. One theory posits that a gamma-ray burst, by converting nitrogen and oxygen into sun-blocking smog, may have brought on the glaciers. On a planetary and cosmological scale, the Sun was 2.7% average less luminous, the days on Earth were ~21 hours longer with ~417 days per years due to a faster, the moon was twice as close generating much stronger tides, and there was giant collision in the outer solar system which caused a dramatic spike in meteorite showers 466 Ma which may have also affected Devonian life on Earth. In terms of the supercontinent cycle, the dispersed land masses of Gondwana and Laurentia were gradually moving into separate hemispheres.
Panel 7 – 370 million years: The calculate age of Castor, the second-brightest object in the zodiac constellation of Gemini, second to its much older twin, Pollux. It appears singular to the naked eye, but it is a sextuple star system organized into three binary pairs. When Castor first appeared in the night sky, it was the Age of Fishes here on Earth due to the rapid diversification in fish. On the shores of the Tethys, Western Australia’s renowned Devonian ‘Great Barrier Reef’ was also beginning to emerge, the vestiges of which you can see today as rocky landscapes, well-preserved fossils, and deep gorges in Balili Conservation Park near Fitzroy Crossing.
Panel 8 – 250 million years: Our solar system is a on galactical carrousel ride, going round the Milky Way every 250 million years, the duration of which is known as ‘galactic year’. Last galactic year, life on Earth had just had a near-death experience. Two galactic years ago, the Cambrian Period had just produced the most intense burst of evolution ever known, radiating with complex macroscopic multicellular life. Three galactic years ago, Snowball Earth was enveloping the entire planet. Four galactic years ago, the cratons of Australia; the Pilbara, the Yilgarn and the Gawler had melded together within the supercontinent of Rodinia to form the continental core of Australia. When it comes to one of nature’s grandest cycles, nothing beats the supercontinent cycle, which takes about 3 galactic years to complete!
Panel 9 – 230-250 million years: Commonly known as the ‘Dog Star’, this is the calculated age range of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. So bright that under the right conditions, it can be observed in daylight! Sirius is one of Earth’s nearest neighbours at only 8.6 light years from the Sun, and it’s steadily moving closer to the Solar System and will gradually become even brighter. Unlike our sun, it’s a binary star system made of two stars, Sirius A and Sirius B that orbit each other every 50 years. Like anything bright and sparkly, Sirius too has featured strongly in human storytelling, as well as practically in navigation, marking the passage of time, and predicting seasonal cycles. Sirius’ appearance in the night sky coincided with the re-emergence of life after the Great Dying, the Permian Extinction – When life teeming on Earth nearly came to an end. This event coincided with the protracted volcanic eruptions of the Siberian Traps, a huge volcanic field in Russia, which expelled enormous amounts of lava and greenhouse gasses. Estimates put the atmospheric CO² at 2000ppm, in comparison with today’s CO² levels at 410ppm. Global temperatures soared, warming equatorial waters to an average temp of over 40°C: 13 degrees higher than today’s average, which would have quickly divested life on Earth where extinction is the rule, and survival is the exception.
Panel 10 – 75-150 million: This estimated age of the Pleiades or Messier 45, found the constellation Taurus. Containing middle-aged, luminous, and blue stars, it is the nearest open star cluster to Earth, and the most enchanting to the naked eye in the night sky. Also known as the ‘Seven Sisters’, it features in ancient stories told in European, African, Asian, Indonesian, Native American and Aboriginal Australian cultures. Given its global reach, it is possibly the world’s oldest story and may reach back 100,000 years to when all modern humans migrated out of Africa. During the birth of beloved seven sisters, the Cretaceous was also in full flow, in all its roaring, chomping, and stomping glory!
Panel 11 – 108 million years: Located in the southern highlands of the Moon’s nearside, the prominent 85km-diametre Tycho Crater has an extremely fresh appearance and so considered to be one of the youngest large impact craters on the Moon. Radiometric age dating of rock samples of the crater ray recovered during the Apollo 17 mission indicate they were formed 108 million years, and in turn when crater itself was formed. In meanwhile, back down here on Earth in outback Western Australia, tell tales signs from recent drill core samples extracted near the historic goldfields of Ora Banda hint at a similar story. A 200m-wide asteroid may have crashed here around 100 million years ago, producing a 5km-diametre crater which has since filled with younger sediments to form a flat landscape.
Panel 12 – 55 million years: The first ever image ever captured of a supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation Virgo. This black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Catching its shadow involved eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe, operating together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet. At the same time this shadow was cast across the universe, here on Earth the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) had led to a rapid 5-8°C global average temperature rise, caused by a sudden massive injection of carbon-rich greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In turn, ice caps melted, sea levels rose, oceans became acidic and anoxic, leading to the extinction of numerous deep-sea species. A precautionary tale, the PETM provides in insight to how Earth system responds to rapid greenhouse gas-driven warming.
Panel 13 – 37 million years: According to Hipparcos, a scientific satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA), this is calculated age of Achernar, the brightest star in the constellation of Eridanus, and the ninth-brightest in the night sky. Located in the deep southern sky, it’s the least spherical star in the Milky Way! While our sun spins on its axis once about every 25 days, Achernar completes one rotation in about two days, which flattens and shapes it into an oblate spheroid with an equatorial diameter 56% greater than its polar diameter. At this time, the onset of accelerated seafloor spreading between Australia and Antarctic saw the finale of Pangea’s breakup and the formation of the South Tasman Rise, a sunken landbridge that connects Tasmania to Antarctica.
Panel 14 – 25 million years: According to Hipparcos, a scientific satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA), this is calculated age of Canopus, the brightest star in the southern constellation of Carina and the second-brightest star in the night sky. It’s so bright, it demands attention, and no epic storytelling can resist its appeal. From Greek mythology, where Canopus originally marked the rudder of Argo Navis, an ancient celestial ship by Jason and the Argonauts in the legend of the Trojan War; to modern science-fiction, where it is the home star to Arrakis, a desert planet featured in the Dune series of novels by Frank Herbert. Like many of the characters in such stories where Canopus plays a role, it too lives in the stellar fast lane and is destined to die young. Also, short and sweet, the world’s longest chain of continental volcanoes stretching more than 2,000 kilometres along eastern Australia was formed in less than 25 million years. The Cosgrove ‘hotspot’ track emerged between 9-33 million years ago and runs from Cape Hillsborough on the central Queensland coast, south-west through central New South Wales to Cosgrove in Victoria. Based on the speed at which the Australian plate is moving, it is thought that the mantle plume which generated these volcanoes is currently located between King Island and Tasmania.
Panel 15 – 2.6 million years: The current distance in light years between our home galaxy, the Milky Way and our nearest and rapidly nearing galaxy, Andromeda; the most distant object humans can see with the unaided eye. Speeding towards each other at about 116 kms per second, these two mighty galaxies are gravitationally destined to collide in the next 4-5 billion years’ time. Prior to this event, the evenings will be graced not only by planetary motions and lunar phases, but also a galaxy rise! This is also the start of the narrative of the Quaternary, the most recent 2.6 million years of Earth’s history when the continents were just about where they are today. Typically embodied by eroded washout areas, the often-understated age symbol beginning with ‘Q’ found on most geological maps represents a brief period of extraordinary changes in global environment, during which much of human evolution took place.
Rocks of the Mount Magnet Region provided by Dr Michael Wingate
Shared Ancestry of Mount Magnet’s selected species researched by
Science Communicator Gary Muir of Wow Wilderness Tours
The age of the rock in the Mount Magnet region have inspired a further innovation to the sculpture. Through consultation with the Geological Survey of Western Australia the pathway into the Genestreams Songlines Sculptures will take visitors on a journey from the origins of the Earth (4.6 billion years ago) to the present day, telling the story of regional life’s shared ancestry and the geological formation of Australia.
Illustrating Mount Magnets selected species Mali Moir, Ben Beeton & Margarita Menares
This artwork features 15 species (including humans) that were selected by the local community with specific focus on iconic species and species that are in decline in the region. Each of the 15 panels features one of the selected species.
Workshops in collecting local plants for a local Herbarium and Florilegium by Mali Moir
The Geological Story of Western Australia featuring the Geological map of WA through time written by Dr David Martin
Tracing Australia’s Ancient Cratons
Vision for Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Tourism in the
Murchison Region and Astro Rocks 2022
We hope to be opening the Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Sculpture at the Astro Rocks Festival in 2022. We envisage seven Genestreams Songlines Sculptures in the Murchison GeoRegion operating together to form an exciting new tourism trail which promotes an awareness of the songlines, the regions natural assets and their deep time stories.
For further information we recommend “Great Journeys” & “The Birth of the Super Continents”.