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Massive discovery of ancient volcanoes in Central Australia named for cricket legend Shane Warne

Stephanie Bedo, August 15, 2019 6:45PM

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Lava from Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, US, erupts in July 2018. Scientists have discovered around 100 volcanoes in Central Australia that, during the Jurassic period, would have spewed hot ash and lava like Kilauea. Picture: US Geological Survey via AP media_cameraLava from Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, US, erupts in July 2018. Scientists have discovered around 100 volcanoes in Central Australia that, during the Jurassic period, would have spewed hot ash and lava like Kilauea. Picture: US Geological Survey via AP


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Around 100 volcanoes have been discovered in Central Australia and named after cricket legend Shane Warne.

An international team of explorers from the University of Adelaide, SA and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have uncovered the Jurassic-era volcanoes buried deep within the Cooper-Eromanga Basins.

The Basins, located in the northeastern corner of South Australia and southwestern corner of Queensland, is Australia’s largest onshore* oil and gas producing region.

But despite about 60 years of petroleum* exploration and production, the old volcanic world has gone largely undetected.

The explorers have now named the volcanic region the “Warnie Volcanic Province” after Shane Warne, widely considered the greatest spin bowler of all time.

“We wrote much of the (scientific) paper during a visit to Adelaide by the Aberdeen researchers, when a fair chunk was discussed and written at Adelaide Oval during an England vs Cricket Australia XI match in November 2017,” they said.

“Inspired by the cricket, we thought Warnie a good name for this once-fiery region.”

An aerial view of Moomba gas field, Cooper Basin. media_cameraAerial view from 2012 of Moomba gas field in South Australia, in the Cooper Basin,

Researchers used advanced subsurface imaging techniques to identify the huge number of volcanic craters and lava flows, and the deeper magma* chambers that fed them.

They say the volcanoes developed in the Jurassic period, between 180 and 160 million years ago, buried beneath hundreds of metres of layered rocks.

Though the Basins are now a dry and barren landscape, the researchers say in Jurassic times there would have been craters and fissures*, spewing hot ash and lava into the air, surrounded by networks of river channels with large lakes and coal swamps.

“While the majority of Earth’s volcanic activity occurs at the boundaries of tectonic plates*, or under the Earth’s oceans, this ancient Jurassic world developed deep within the interior of the Australian continent,” says co-author Associate Professor Simon Holford, of the University of Adelaide.

“Its discovery raises the prospect* that more undiscovered volcanic worlds reside beneath the poorly explored surface of Australia.”

The researchers say that Jurassic-aged sedimentary* rocks bearing oil, gas and water have been economically* important for Australia, but this latest discovery suggests a lot more volcanic activity in the Jurassic period than previously supposed.

media_cameraAn oil well in the Cooper Basin, SA.

“The Cooper-Eromanga Basins have been substantially* explored since the first gas discovery in 1963,” said co-author Associate Professor Nick Schofield, of the University of Aberdeen.

“This has led to a massive amount of available data from underneath the ground but, despite this, the volcanics have never been properly understood in this region until now. It changes how we understand processes that have operated in Earth’s past.”

1st Test Match  -  England v Australia media_cameraAustralian Shane Warne celebrates what would become known as the “Ball of the Century” with Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy after bowling batsman Mike Gatting for 4 during the second day of the 1st Test between England and Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester, UK. June 4, 1993. Picture: Getty Images

Australian Shane Warne is a former champion cricketer and now a cricket commentator.

He is internationally famous as a right-arm, leg break*, spin bowler.

He was born in Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria, in 1969.

He played 145 Tests for Australia, took 708 Test wickets and made 3154 Test runs. His 708 Test wickets was the most ever until Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan passed that record in 2007.

His first Test match for Australia was against India in Sydney in 1992.

In 1993, Warne was selected for Australia’s Ashes tour of England. He was the leading wicket-taker for the six-Test series, with 34.

His first ball of that series is called the “Ball of the Century”. He was bowling to the experienced English batsman Mike Gatting. The ball turned from well outside leg stump to clip the off bail and Gatting was out.

ROYAL Cricket media_cameraThe Queen with Australian cricketers Steve Waugh (left) and Shane Warne (right) during a reception at Buckingham Palace, London, UK, June 2, 1999. Picture: Getty Images

He also starred in One Day International cricket and was the ODI captain of Australia and played in the Big Bash League for the Melbourne Stars.

He has been named as one of the Wisden* Cricketers of the Century and was the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 1997, 2004 and 2005. He was inducted into the ICC* Cricket Hall of Fame in 2013.

VIDEO: Shane Warne on the “Ball of the Century” and why the Ashes are so important

Warnie's Ashes moments


  • onshore: on land rather than in the ocean
  • petroleum: a fossil fuel
  • magma: hot liquid from below the Earth’s crust that becomes lava and other rock when it cools
  • fissures: gaps or holes
  • tectonic plates: pieces of the Earth’s crust
  • prospect: possibility
  • sedimentary: relating to rock formed by sediment settling and getting pressed together
  • economically: to do with money
  • substantially: mostly
  • leg break: a ball that moves from the leg side towards the off side
  • Wisden: an annual, international, cricket reference book
  • ICC: International Cricket Council


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  1. How many volcanoes did the explorers find and what have they called them?
  2. What does the area look like now and what would it have looked like in the Jurassic period?
  3. Do the scientists think these are the only volcanoes to be found in this area?
  4. What sort of bowling did Shane Warne specialise in?
  5. What is the “Ball of the Century”?


1. A different landscape
Read the article carefully, especially the description of what the landscape in this area would have looked like in the Jurrasic era. Draw an artist’s impression of this landscape 160-180 million years ago.

Use Google Maps to help you locate this area of Australia. Zoom in to a particular point in this area and use the ‘Street view image’ function (little person icon in bottom right corner) to look at the current landscape in this area of Australia. Not all places are visible in ‘street view image’- select an area shaded blue.

Draw this landscape.

Now compare your pictures. Write a short description that highlights how the landscape has changed. Use interesting, descriptive vocabulary to help capture what the land looked like in the Jurassic era and what it looks like now.

Time: allow 35 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, The Arts — Visual Arts, Science

2. Extension
Scientists have named this region after one of Australia’s most famous cricketers ‘Warnie Volcanic Province’. Do you think this is a good name for this region?

If so, give a list of reasons you think this is a good choice.

If not, who or what would you have named the area after? Give reasons for your choice.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalist has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: If the researchers find more volcanoes in Central Australia, who should they name them after?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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