The sudden discovery of mysterious “fairy circles” in the Pilbara region of Western Australia has paved the path for the scientists to go find out the real cause of the appearance of the rings in the region.
About 10 miles from a tiny mining town of Newman, there is a desert in northwest Australia where the fairy circle patches have been found. Recently, Namibia in southwest Africa was also confirmed to have these circles with patches of bare soil present in uniform hexagonal patterns throughout arid grassland.
According to The Atlantic, the local people believe that the circles are the work or footprints of deities and spirits. The presence of “fairy circles” has remained one of the most mysterious puzzles for the scientists, who started examining and writing about them in the 1920s. A few scientists have speculated that the circles in specified patterns are the work of grazing ants or radioactive gases that leak from beneath the earth’s surface.
However, these circles caught the attention of Helmholtz Centre Environmental Research’s fairy circle expert Stephan Getzin in 2014 when it was found 15 kilometres in Newman’s east in the Pilbara region. The alert was given by Australian environmental scientists and study co-author, Bronwyn Bell.
“They have an extremely regular hexagonal spacing, like a honeycomb,” Getzin said. “That pattern persists throughout the landscape for hundreds of thousands of metres. Termites and ants are not known to cause such strictly ordered patterns.”
Many other researchers aside from Getzin have remained unconvinced of the insects’ involvement in making the rings. Instead, a few of them think that the circles are formed due to the engagement of plants to struggle for water and other rarely obtainable nutrients. According to them, the plants’ battle for water prompts the landscape to ‘self-organise’ itself into rings at places where there is a scarcity of water. Scientists Michael Cramer and Nichole Barger confirmed that the rings are found only in those regions that receive lower rainfall and lack water.
University of Western Australia Restoration Seed Bank Initiative’s Todd Erickson confirmed that a strange hexagonal pattern of the rings is visible while flying from Newman, the small mining town.
The pattern is accompanied by six bare patches with a diameter of four metres that are scattered at a distance of 10 metres from each other around a central focal point.”You don’t see them from the ground,” Erickson said as quoted by the ABC. “You can be standing inside a fairy circle and not see the next one 10 metres away; to find them, you need to spot them from the air. People have known about [the circles] for years but no one with the skills of Stephan have actually gone out there and actually mapped them from the landscape scale,” he said.