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The Australian National University

Warramunga Seismic and Infrasound Station

Signage at Warramunga Seismic and Infrasonic Station (Source: ANU)

The Warramunga Seismic Station is located approximately 35 kilometres southeast of the township of Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory. The L-shaped parcel of land covers an area of approximately 26,500 hectares.

The Tennant Creek area is the land of the Waramangu people. Anthropologists W.B. Spencer and F.J. Gillen undertook one of the earliest studies of the Aboriginal people in the area in 1901. These studies highlighted the mythological importance of the area to the local people whilst also recording ceremonies and various types of stone tools (Pearce 1984). The Aboriginal Area Protection Authority Register of Sacred Sites recognises two known Aboriginal sites in the area of the Warumungu Seismic Station.

A twenty element seismic array was established at the site in 1968 and has been operated by ANU for the last thirty years. Today the site also operates a WRAB Broadband Seismometer on behalf of the University of California, San Diego and an Infrasound Array which has operated since the early 1970s.

The central recording station is an air-conditioned building with 240 V AC power provided by a twin diesel generator system (with auto-switch over). Close to the main station building are also good facilities for equipment maintenance (mechanical and electronic). The remoteness of the site means that the station needs to be self-sufficient (replacement parts are rarely obtainable in less than 48 hours) and this imposes considerable responsibility on the Station staff.

Access to the array is from the Stuart Highway across Aboriginal freehold land (Waramangu Land Trust) such access is governed by Section 70 (iv) of the Land Rights Act NT 1987 for property surrounded by Aboriginal land. A formal access Sacred Site Protection and Access Agreement has been signed with the Central Land Council in Alice Springs representing the Traditional Owners.

Activities on the site are subject to the stringent provisions of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989 and the Aboriginal Land rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, which protect sites of significance to the Aboriginal Peoples. The upgraded configuration of the seismic array and the proposed siting of the infrasound array avoid the band of land associated with the "Flying Fox Dreaming" of the Waramangu people.

Updated:  26 May 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Facilities & Services Division/Page Contact:  Systems & Information Technology