Wolfe Creek Crater Geology and Geophysics

An interpretation of some recent Geophysical Data of Wolfe Creek Crater, south of Halls Creek, Kimberly region, Western Australia

by Louis A G Hissink MSc. Consulting Diamond Geologist December 2002 (Updated 23 Jan 2016)



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Figure 1


Wolfe Creek Crater, aerial view, looking north (Image Credit WA Museum and Kevron Aerial Surveys)


Wolfe Creek Crater was first discovered in 1947 from an aerial survey, but was previously known to the local Aborigines as “Kandimalal”. The crater is circular and has a diameter of 880 metres, with the floor of the crater some 60 meters below the rim. It lies 90 kilometres south of Halls Creek on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. Figure 1 is an aerial image of the crater while Figure 2 is a recent satellite image of the crater, showing the nearby Wolfe Creek drainage system. The satellite image is skewed to the right.


 It is conventionally interpreted as a classic meteorite crater and dated some 300,000 years BP. Fragments of the meteorite which created the crater have been found and unusual iron rich shale balls also occur around the crater rim, containing fragments and veins of iron-nickel metal and an iron-phosphide, Schreibersite.


 In July 2002 UTS Geophysics flew a geophysical survey over Wolfe Creek Crater for Geoscience Australia. Airborne Magnetic, radiometric and digital terrain data were collected. The author purchased the final digital data from the Department of Minerals and Resources of Western Australia . The geophysical data is displayed on the Department’s web site and shows various images of the data.


Figure 2

Satellite Image of Wolfe Creek Crater (Google Earth 2016)

The following are images computed from a GIS system of the Reduced to Pole magnetics, Total Radiometric Count and the digital terrain model of the crater.

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Figure 3

Reduced to Pole Magnetics (Crater is large circular feature in centre of image)

The magnetic response of the crater is fairly weak, with a thin annulus magnetic high corresponding to the crater rim, and a very small high in the centre or the bull’s eye in the crater. The regional magnetic field slopes from west to east.


The next image (Figure 4) is a composite of the Radiometric Total count, the Digital terrain contours, and the position of the section line AB. The most striking feature here is the concentration of the radioactive elements (Uranium, Thorium and Potassium) around the crater rim together with a south west-to-west concentration away from the crater itself.


However closer inspection of the elevation contours shows that the crater rim is somewhat asymmetric in shape in that the south west crater rim is thicker and of a shallower slope than the steeper north-eastern part of the rim. This, coupled with the regional topographical slope to the southwest, suggests that the splay of radiometric material is probably related to subsequent erosion of the crater rim towards Wolfe Creek to the west.


There is however a strong correlation between the radiometric counts with the crater rim.

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Figure 4

DTM on TC-radiometrics showing Section AB

Figure 5 below is a composite profile along section AB showing the topography from the DTM data, (bottom profile), the Total count of the radiometric data and the RTP (Reduced to Pole) magnetic data over Wolfe Creek crater. There is good correlation between the geophysics and crater rim, and the radiometric total count is quite anomalous.


The meteorite inferred to have formed the Wolfe Creek Crater has been described as an iron meteorite and the shale balls interpreted as deeply rusted (or highly weathered) remains of the iron meteorite. The structural relationship of the country rock to the crater is typical for an impact crater. The country rock is a quartzite capped with laterite, and often layers of laterite can be seen sandwiched in between the contorted quartzite, putting the impact as post laterite development. This has been confirmed in the field by the author in 1999 and 2000.


The uranium abundance in meteorites is typically as 0.008 ppm, and that for the earth’s crust 1.4 ppm, and often 50 ppm in some granites, and in the percent range for uranium ore deposits (Briefing paper No 78, 2002, The Cosmic Origins & Geological Role of Uranium, Uranium Information Centre, Melbourne Victoria, Australia).

It is difficult to explain the anomalous concentration of radioactive uranium, thorium and potassium as the result of the catastrophic melting of the Wolfe Creek Meteorite itself on impact, given the extremely low abundance of uranium in meteorites.

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Figure 5

Composite profile of Magnetics, Radiometric Total Count and Digital Terrain model (A is on left B on right, looking NW)

Experience elsewhere in this region shows that elevated radiometric counts are often associated with surface laterite deposits, one such example occurring on Nookanbah Station hundreds of kilometres to the west where a similar geophysical survey was conducted by the author on behalf of a client over a tenement hosting igneous intrusions known as lamproites during 2001. However the clear association of the radiometric anomaly at Wolfe Creek Crater with the crater rim itself, discounts any association with the known laterite at the crater. All that could be said is that the radiometric anomaly is associated with the crater rim, but is not derived from the meteorite itself since these meteorites don’t have enough uranium in the first instance to create the measured anomaly. Unless the Wolfe Creek Crater meteorite was a rare one, which did have elevated levels of uranium, but there is little data to form this interpretation, if any.


Aboriginal myths about Wolfe Creek Crater are unusual and the one published by the West Australian Museum mentions the local story of two rainbow snakes, whose sinuous paths across the desert formed the nearby Sturt and Wolfe Creeks, and the crater marks the place where one of those rainbow snakes emerged from the ground.


Another aboriginal myth relates this crater to the morning star, though the reference is anecdotal. None the less if ancestral Aborigines had observed this crater being formed then either it is sheer coincidence as the aborigines are assumed to have arrived 40,000 years ago, or the geological dating is problematical.

Giving the Aboriginal myth some credence, it is possible that what their ancestors could have described was an enormous electrical discharge between the earth and some other cosmic body. Such electrical discharges would have occurred over some hours of duration, and such a novel physical phenomenon would tend to be described by technologically unsophisticated nomadic hunter-gatherers in terms of an aboriginal metaphor, or a snake, hence the term “rainbow snake”. This suggests that the Wolfe Creek Crater is a discharge crater, not a meteoritic impact crater.




  1. Australia’s Meteorite craters, Alex Bevan and Ken McNamara, West Australian Museum, December 1993

  2. Logistics report for a Detailed Airborne Magnetic, Radiometric and Digital Elevation survey for the Wolfe Creek Crater Project, July 2002, UTS Geophysics, for Geoscience Australia.

About Louis Hissink

Retired diamond exploration geologist. Trained by Western Mining Corporation and polished by De Beers.
This entry was posted in Aboriginal Myths, Geology, Science and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Wolfe Creek Crater Geology and Geophysics

  1. PeterMG says:

    When you look at the moon and muse upon how is it all those “impact craters” look like they were exactly 90 degree impacts and ask how could that be? you should get the answer, its very very unlikely. And when we see the same formations throughout the solar system it becomes more and more unlikely any of these craters were formed by impacts.

    I was recalling the recent Russian meteor that exploded the other year and thought that it was such a small object yet it was able to create an explosion to rival a nuclear explosion and if I recall the estimated power of this explosion kept getting revised up. Was this an electrical explosion and does this small object open the door ajar to what a large object could do if it approached earth with a different electrical potential. Have we a lot to learn about the power of electricity?

    The other question I have is if all the planets are negative in relation to the Sun, would they not repel one and other rather than collide and in doing so discharge one way or the other to equalise their negative charge. Are direct impacts in fact a rather remote likelihood, but perhaps the even more devastating electrical discharge event extremely likely, an event that the powers ignore and don’t take at all seriously.


    • Some years back I posted a comment noting that if one looks at the moon’s equator you can see circular craters implying a vertically impacting object. Problem is that the object would have to pass through the Earth en route too the moon for this to happen. A colleague mentioned this to some ABC Radio astronomers and he tells me that they were left speechless and could not answer the question he put. Tee Hee.


      Last para: Well yes and no I suppose, but the net electrical charge of the planet isn’t its surface charge but the electric charge that is seen in the space plasma which isn’t all that much at present. Then coupled to this is explaining the orbital motion of the planets, presently by Newton’s rules, but there are anomalies there too, since more than 3 bodies causes all sorts of problems. The impacts would have occurred during the last period of solar system instability which I am guessing (following Heinsohn et al) was during the 1st millennium. But you have to understand how science arrived at its present paradigm – a clockwork, billiard-ball universe and cosmos, so all collisions are billiard ball types.

      I was emailed this morning about a BBC report about the Earth and Moon and something about oxygen isotopes, and how the Earth was formed as the result of two older planets colliding. (http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/earth-was-created-by-two-planets-colliding-scientists-conclude-20160131-gmhxcu.html).

      Makes me wonder what isotopes they were breathing when they formulated that theory.

      Direct bolide impacts are, I suspect, remote but electric-discharge events? Quite likely and you are right, the powers that be will ignore it until its sparks them on the butt. Then they will react but probably too late to do anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. johnm33 says:

    It’d be interesting to know if it has ‘roots’ like a breccia pipe, if the earth stopped rotating then an awesome amount of kinetic energy would be translated to heat. [even more if it switched to a slower orbit further from the sun] It may be that an ore body thoroughly ‘soaked’ with hydrogen got so hot that it gassified the minerals around it and exploded out of the earth due to the cascade of reactions that followed. http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/hunt/hunt.htm
    On another tack i see there are more or less parallel streaks running east and a little north on the sat. image, so i took a closer look at the general area, and beginning close to the indian ocean there are huge numbers of these lines. Just what i’d expect if the sea rose from it’s bed and charged across the land at what 1000kph? So is central Australia km deep with sediment? saturated with salt? http://apps.sentinel-hub.com/sentinel-playground/?source=S2&lat=-18.587355286789126&lng=124.30206298828125&zoom=11&preset=CUSTOM&layers=B05,B03,B01&maxcc=2&gain=0.4&gamma=1.0&time=2015-01-01%7C2017-11-27&atmFilter=&showDates=false&evalscript=&showImage
    Do these lines show up in the topography, what’s the conventional take? This would help explain the Aboriginals in Victoria saying the floods came from far inland.


    • It’s unlikely the Earth stopped rotating per se from inertial reasons, but the possibility it might have is dependent on how biblical narratives are interpreted , and whether those narratives are either accurate or medieval fabrications as considered at Malagabay.wordpress.com.

      As it stands Wolfe Creek crater seems a simple electric discharge feature – recall that the local tribal people maintain that the crater was where the rainbow serpent left the ground after tunnelling underground to form Sturt Creek.

      The image is extremely dark and difficult to see let alone interpret. This said, it is likely the linear features are possibly ridges of very fine sands usually interpreted as fossil dunes. However that’s all I can say at this point since there’s not enough detail on the image to work out its location.

      Floods of sea water washing over flat lying continents may well have occurred and caused some depositional results, but observation of known tsunamis suggests these moving bodies lose motional energy very quickly because they are not being driven like a bulldozer pushing material horizontally. It’s more like a bulldozer, in motion and then running out of fuel, and so inertia keeps the forward motion in operation but friction etc causes a slow drop in velocity as the bulldozer comes to a halt. Same with tsunamis – they are transient phenomena and once formed by a seismic impulse, are then losing energy all the time.

      The surface sediments are real enough. It’;s just that these cannot be deposited by tsunamis, especially if the water body transmitting the wave front is itself a horizontally oriented liquid crystal or EZ water as described by Geerry Pollack and his research people in Washington State Uni.


  3. johnm33 says:

    Click the x top right, for options, for instance drag and drop r-g-b colours or try ‘back to list’.
    Velikovsky related accounts from all around the world [about the world stopping] more myths allow the possibility of three widely seperated occasions,[Hopi 4 creations f.i.] i used to view this as ridiculous, now the older the myth the better, mostly [i think] the ancients hid their truth in poetry and childrens stories and since they have proved opaque to scholars it hasn’t been destroyed.
    Water moving at 1000k carries everything before it, and here i’m suggesting the Indian ocean south of the equator down to ? 22.5deg. south ? [further south the stripes indicate a slight southern flow] washed over the land, at mach1+ scouring the land reaching Alice Springs in about 4/5 hours slowing and dumping it’s debris. We’re not talking about techtonic events here but the shock freezing of electron movement and it’s effect on the planet, in essence the solid body stops spinning, the seas do not, though for anyone on land to survive suggests a rapid deceleration rather than an abrupt halt, and unlike the animals they ran for the hills. The solid earth suffers the effects of the translation of kinetic energy to heat, the seas, moving, not so much. So by the time the flood arrives the land would be scalding hot, causing a wall of steam to rise from the wave front. http://68.media.tumblr.com/f6959257bf4c7b28be5a0da1ae16a52a/tumblr_mzv5b7Sljz1s3dn7vo1_1280.png looks potentially nearer to 1000mph
    “recall that the local tribal people maintain that the crater was where the rainbow serpent left the ground after tunnelling underground to form Sturt Creek.” I’m reading that as lightning struck and carved out the creek then the reaction occurred, which spouted steam and particulates high into the atmosphere, and anchored the lightning to the crater.
    Then of course the spin restarted,
    One other thought is how big a projectile could this crater shoot, and where would it land?


    • The problem is explaining physically how a spinning earth could be stopped. This depends on how it’s rotation is maintained in the first instance. And once stopped, how then does it start up again? What’s the mechanism?

      This needs to be solved first.


  4. johnm33 says:

    “This needs to be solved first.” certainly before one chooses to believe it, yet something is slowing Venus down.


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