First, let me take your breath away. Just for a moment. I’ll give it back, I promise.
Back in 2010, my intrepid companion and I went geotrekking with Lockwood, and he took us to see some ethereal dunes on the Oregon coast just north of Florence. This photo comes from a viewpoint somewhere past Darlingtonia Wayside, below Seal Rock Cave. I’ve had it on my mind to write up for ages now. I still haven’t got the research done, but Brian Romans and Galileo’s Pendulum have declared Sand Dune Week, so now’s as good a time as any to tease you with a few photos, and reminisce about Sand Dunes I Have Known.
Where I grew up, sand dunes were a dry-land sort of thing. There’s all sorts of places in Arizona where you can do the dunes, Yuma being among the more impressive. We passed through there on the way to San Diego once, and I recall being rather astounded by the sea of sand. Those dunes would qualify as mountains in some of the flatter parts of the country. I snapped a picture of them on the way through, but have since lost it. So, engage your imagination, and pretend we’re looking at a picture of pale yellow sand looming outside the car window, with a wonderful little blurred bare tree accenting just how much sand and how little vegetation we’re looking at. Someday, if they’re very lucky, those dunes may end up looking like this:
This isn’t the best example of cross-bedding in the entire universe, but you get the idea. And another:
Once, this part of Northern Arizona was like Yuma, covered in pale sand piled up into dunes. They’re now fossil landscapes. You can find lithified dunes all over Arizona.
There’s a reprise going on, along Highway 89, just after 89a splits off. You go through a magnificent road cut blasted through the ancient dunes, and right on the other side, cuddling the cliffs, you’ll see little red sand dunes. The sandstone here is returning to its roots.
Down in Sedona, you can travel through a variety of sandy old landscapes, deserts and coasts, and they loom over you at Slide Rock. It’s dramatic scenery. Too bad the cat didn’t appreciate it.
In Arizona, the sand dunes that have not got turned to stone don’t tend to have much vegetation on them. So it’s fascinating to loop back round to Oregon, and see so much stuff growing on the sand that the dunes are practically immobile. Not to mention all that blue wet salty stuff off to the west.
Some misguided fools last century actually planted some sort of grass so the dunes would stop moving around and annoying the land owners. And it’s done a bang-up job of paralyzing once-free dunes. But here and there, the sand slips free.
And maybe, just maybe, someday, the dunes will move again.
I’ll leave you with one last image, this one from Holman Overlook:
There. Lovely. And someday, I’ll give them the write-up they deserve. For now, I leave you with these other fine Dune Week posts:
Clastic Detritus: Grain Flow on a Martian Dune.
Galileo’s Pendulum: Who Needs Shark Week? Let’s Have Dune Week!
Cocktail Party Physics: Of Granular Material and Singing Sands.
Georneys: Sand Dunes in Death Valley.
Looking for Detachment: Sand Mountain for Sand Dune Week.
Geology Home Companion: Can Dune!
Agile Geoscience: Wave-particle duality.
Research at a Snail’s Pace: Dune Week.
Pools and Riffles: Sand Dune Week: The Sand Hills.
European Geosciences Union: Sand Dunes at EGU GA 2012.
Sandatlas: Mysterious dunes in Estonia.
In the Company of Plants and Rocks: Dune Week: virtual field trip to the Oso Flaco dunes.
Catherine Curtis: Namib sand dunes.
Let me know if there’s anybody I missed.