The Murujuga rock art, the world’s largest and oldest collection of petroglyphs, has survived 40,000 years or so out in the open on a finger of land extending from Australia’s northwestern coast. “Murujuga is the most important rock art site in the world,” says Michel Lorblanchet, an archaeologist at CNRS, the French national research agency, who is noted for his work on European cave art.
It may also be the most threatened. Scientists and the First Nations custodians of the site are warning that acidic emissions from a nearby petrochemical complex are etching away images densely spread across the 30-by-6-kilometer Burrup Peninsula and on nearby islands. And the pollution is about to get worse. Last month work began on a new fertilizer plant, and a new natural gas processing facility is in planning.
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