GPS and a Grader Bring Back the Maree Man Geoglyph in Australia

Elizabeth Borneman


All around the world there are man-made images that are visible from high in the air. These incredible works of art are sometimes famous, like the Nasca Lines, and sometimes not so famous, like the Marree Man geolyph in Australia.

The Marree Man is a geolyph located in the Australian Outback. A geolyph is an image or a picture that is a design in the earth, and it is usually made of natural materials. The images are manmade and typically very large, which makes them difficult to see unless you are above them. Discovered in 1998 by a pilot, the Marree Man depicts an Aboriginal man throwing a stick or a boomerang. No one is sure who created the massive design, and no one has come forward in the years since the Marree Man was first sighted.

The image could be caught using Landsat images from satellites flying in orbit above the Earth. The image itself is massive; the Marree Man stretches 3.5 kilometers from the tip of the stick he is throwing to the bottom of his toes. Over time, however, the image has been faded by the elements. Landsat images taken in 2000 showed far less details of the Marree Man than the images taken in 1998.

The Marree Man Geoglyph Appears and Then Disappears

Compare the original etching of the Maree Man geoglyph as captured by Landsat 5 in 1998 versus the Landsat 7 capture of the same area in 2000. Use your mouse to move the slider back and forth to compare the two satellite images:

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Bring Back the Marree Man with GPS and a Grader

The Marree Man has now appeared once again after efforts were made to restore the image in 2016. A grader and a GPS were used to re-sketch the outline of the Marree Man to preserve its artistry and make sure it is visible for many more years to come. Images from Landsat 8 show a more detailed geolyph, one of the biggest and best-preserved on earth.

The Marree Man geoglyph in Australia. Image: Landsat 8, November 2016. Source: NASA
The Marree Man geoglyph in Australia. Image: Landsat 8, November 2016. Source: USGS.



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About the author
Elizabeth Borneman
My name is Elizabeth Borneman and I am a freelance writer, reader, and coffee drinker. I live on a small island in Alaska, which gives me plenty of time to fish, hike, kayak, and be inspired by nature. I enjoy writing about the natural world and find lots of ways to flex my creative muscles on the beach, in the forest, or down at the local coffee shop.