Scientists have mapped Australian streams buried for millions of years under desert by modelling the flow of water.
A team at Australian National University has been able to peer beneath the desert sands of Simpson Desert in central Australia and mapped the underlying landscape using a software that models how water moves across surface of the continent.
The Digital Elevation Model software was developed at ANU by Professor Michael Hutchinson from the Fenner School of Environment and Society.
Professor Hutchinson said the network of rivers and streams is now buried up to 35 metres below the surface of the Simpson Desert, making it impossible to detect by standard remote sensing methods.
He said: "The ancient drainage systems are thought to have originated in the wet climate of the late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary periods, around 50 million years ago. They are that old.
"The landscape associated with these streams has been largely preserved due to long term tectonic stability and the persistence of arid conditions since the mid-Miocene around 15 million years ago. The age of the overriding dunes is thought to be around one million years."
Professor Hutchinson said that although ANUDEM had allowed the research team to peer into the distant past, when central Australia was much wetter and greener than it's today, the software is also being used to model for the future.
The findings have been published in the latest edition of the 'Australian Journal of Earth Sciences'.