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No. 92: Mar-Apr 1994

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Tractors of the gods?

We are all familiar with the Nazca Lines of South America and the wild theories about the aliens that drew them on the high arid plateaus.

"...now, new patterns have appeared on some parched ground in remote north-western Australia, a series of spirals, circles and broken wavy lines by the North West Coastal Highway near Roebourne.

Patterns on parched ground in remote north-western Australia
"Dick Smith noticed them while flying over the area in June 1988. By virtue of their large size they are, like their ancient counterparts, clearly visible only from the air. Dick photographed them and in due course asked me to try to find out what they were. Simple, I thought, they must be for erosion control or some other form of land management."

C. Hill inquired at several government agencies to no avail. No one knew anything about them.

(Hill, Chris; "Tractors of the Gods?" Australian Geographic, p. 25, July-September 1990. Cr. L.S. Nelson)

Comment. We assume that these curious marks have a modern origin, but one cannot be sure. Ground markings survive undisturbed for long periods in such arid regions. Also, many large-scale ground drawings were made in the past by Australian aborigines. See the sketches of them in our handbook: Ancient Man. Ordering details here.

From Science Frontiers #92, MAR-APR 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987