EarthView–Marree Man Geoglyph in Australia Does Reappearing Act

Release Date: January 11, 2017

The Australian Marree Man is reborn!

EarthViews is a continuing series in which we share a USGS Image of the Week featuring the USGS/NASA Landsat program. From the artistry of Earth imagery to natural and human-caused land change over time, check back every Friday to finish your week with a visual flourish!

This Landsat 8 image, taken in November of 2016, shows the Australian outback after the Marree Man was re-etched. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.
(Public domain.)

The EarthView: Marree Man Geoglyph in Australia Does Reappearing Act

Description:

In June 1998, a pilot discovered a strange sight in the Australian outback that wasn’t there before—a huge outline of what appeared to be an Aboriginal man throwing either a boomerang or a stick. It turned out to be a geoglyph, which is a design on the ground typically made of natural elements and best viewed from above. This geoglyph was distinctive and large enough to be clearly visible in Landsat images.

A satellite image of the Australian Outback

This Landsat 5 image, taken in May of 1998, shows the Australian outback before the Marree Man was created. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.
(Public domain.)

Its origin remains a mystery, as no credible source has claimed responsibility. Over the years, the “Marree Man” faded because of rain and wind. In July 2000, Landsat 7 shows an outline with far fewer details.

A satellite image of the Australian Outback

This Landsat 5 image, taken in June of 1998, shows the Australian outback with the Marree Man. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.
(Public domain.)

In August 2016, the Marree Man was re-etched. A grader and GPS were used to re-create the outline, and this time the geoglyph is expected to last longer. The lines created are wind grooves that will trap water, so over time the outline should turn green.

A satellite image of the Australian Outback

This Landsat 7 image, taken in July of 2000, shows the Marree Man faded from weathering. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.
(Public domain.)

Now clearly visible again in the November 2016 Landsat 8 image, Marree Man is among the biggest geoglyphs on Earth. It stretches 3.5 kilometers from the tip of his stick to his toes. From an airplane, a person would need to be at around 3,000 feet to view it in its entirety.

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