Cosmogenic Mega-Tsunami in the Australia region – are they supported by Aboriginal and Maori legends?
Abstract: Mega-tsunami have affected much of the coastline of Australia over the past millennium. Such catastrophic waves have left an imprint consisting predominantly of bedrock sculpturing of the rocky coastline and deposition of marine sediments to elevations reaching 130 m above sea level. One of the largest of these events occurred in eastern Australia in the fifteenth century.
This event may be related to the Mahuika impact crater found at 48.38 S, 166.48 E on the continental shelf 250 km south of New Zealand. A comet at least 500 m in diameter formed the crater. Maori and Aboriginal legends allude to significant cosmogenic events in the region, while Aboriginal legends about tsunami are common along the eastern Australian coast. Evidence for legends that could describe the impact of a cosmogenic tsunami also exists in NW Australia. Here geological evidence of a single mega tsunamis recent as in the seventeenth century covers 1500 km of coastline. We term this event Wandjina after the artwork related to the legends. More attention should be given to oral traditions in searching globally for other sites of significant mega-tsunami.
Mega Tsunami caused by a comet in Australian area
On the South Island of New Zealand, the Mahuika Comet impact would have been a dramatic event. Within 50 km of the southern coastline, it would have appeared as a fireball ten times larger than the sun, blown over 90% of the tree cover, and ignited grass and trees (Marcus et al. 2005). However, these effects would have ceased within 100 km of the coast. Steel & Snow (1992) believe that local Maori legends and place names refer to a comet event such as this one. They base their hypothesis on the legend of the “Fires of Tamatea” (or Tamaatea). Local ethnographic evidence is best chronicled in the Southland and Otago regions, centred on the town of Tapanui. Here there appears to be evidence for an airburst that flattened trees in a manner similar to the Tunguska event.
The remains of fallen trees are aligned radially away from the point of explosion out to a distance of 40–80 km. Local Maori legends in the area tell about the falling of the skies, raging winds, and mysterious and massive firestorms from space. Tapanui, itself, translates as ‘the big explosion,’ while Waipahi means ‘the place of the exploding fire’. Place names such as Waitepeka, Kaka Point, and Oweka contain the southern Maori word ka, which means fire. The local Maori also attribute the demise of the Moas, as well as their culture, to an extraterrestrial event. The extinction of the Moa is remembered as Manu Whakatau, ‘the bird felled by strange fire’.
Australian Mega Tsunami field evidence
The challenge was to pursue the sources of this evidence to the ocean and detect the signatures of catastrophic tsunami in the coastal landscape. This landscape is also one subject to some of the most intense tropical storms in the world (Nott 2004) associated with winds in excess of 300 km hr21 and storm surges of 3.6 m (Bureau of Meteorology 2000). Two sites stand out as showing evidence of tsunami. The first is located at Cape Voltaire directly west of Kalumburu. Here, waves beyond the capacity of cyclones have truncated the ends of headlands. This erosion was not controlled by bedrock lithology or structure as exemplified by the erosion into columnar basalt on the headland.
Aboriginal legends about comets and tsunami are ubiquitous throughout Australia (Peck 1938;Parker 1978; Johnson 1998). In the interior of New South Wales, the Paakantji tribe, near Wilcannia on the Darling River, tell a story about the sky falling (Jones & Donaldson 1989). A great thunderous ball of fire descended from the sky scattering molten rock of many colours. Unprecedented floods that forced people to flee to the tops of hills to escape drowning followed within a couple of days. Even though flooding fits within a scenario for a nearby comet impact into the ocean, such a story probably is modern and has incorporated elements of an older Aboriginal Dreamtime legend of the Flood. In South Australia, another legend tells of stars falling to Earth to make the circular lagoons fringing the coast.
Perhaps the most intriguing legend along the SE Coast of Australia is the story of the eastern sky falling quoted above (Peck 1938). It has several variants (Peck 1938; Massola 1968; Willey 1979; Johnson 1998).