The Flinders Ranges and surrounds, South Australia: A window on astrobiology and planetary geology

Matilda Thomas*, Jonathan D A Clarke, Victor A. Gostin, George E. Williams, Malcolm R. Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The Flinders Ranges and its surroundings in South Australia comprise an impressive rugged terrain that rises abruptly from piedmont plains to the east and west and merges into the plains of the Cenozoic Lake Eyre Basin to the north. Folded and faulted Neoproterozoic- Cambrian clastic and carbonate sedimentary rocks of the Adelaide Geosyncline (Adelaide Rift Complex) form the predominant geology of the ranges and record varied depositional environments and metamorphic overprints and have had a complex landscape history, resulting in a diverse regolith. This ancient, arid terrain represents some of the best analogue landscapes and settings in Australia to observe features and processes fundamental to the evolution of the Earth. The strata of the Flinders Ranges record the evolution of terrestrial surface environments and the biosphere through the Cryogenian, Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, including evidence for Neoproterozoic glaciations, orbital and rotational dynamics and asteroid impact. The diverse assemblages of stromatolites, ancient and modern hydrothermal systems, and alteration assemblages provide field laboratories for astrobiological and hyperspectral research and training. For these reasons the northern Flinders Ranges near Arkaroola have been selected as a site for multi-disciplinary Mars analogue research and space education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-235
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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