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USGS Geology in the Parks

Sand Dunes - Land-Locked

Dune formation - Death Valley, USGS image

Sand dunes form wherever environmental conditions provide sand, steady wind and a location for the sand to collect. This may occur in both coastal and terrestrial settings.

Land-Locked Dunes

Sand starts as bedrock, which is broken down into blocks, a size at which water is able to transport them downstream. Eventually these large blocks may be jostled around enough to be broken into sand-sized grains. Sand and other sediment usually ends up deposited along the sides of streams, in lakes, or in the ocean, but what happens when it doesn't? An ephemeral, or seasonal stream, during its dry periods, is exposed to wind. Occassionally a lake will dry up, with its sediment left without the protection of water. These two sources feed land-locked dune fields.

There are many examples of terrestrial dune fields within the National Park Service system. Listed below are Parks containing land-locked dunes. Click here to learn more about dune formation and coastal systems.

Terrestrial Dunes

Examples of Dunes

USGS image of dune at Stovepipe

Death Valley National Park, California

Geology of Death Valley - Stovepipe Dunes

NPS photo of Dune at Great Sand DunesGreat Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes geology website - NPS site

Great Sand Dunes photo album - NPS site

NPS image of Kobuk Valley DunesKobuk Valley National Park, Alaska

Kobuk Valley Dunes description - NPS site

USGS image of Kelso Dunes

Mojave National Preserve, California

Geology of Mojave National Preserve - Kelso Dunes

NPS image of White SandsWhite Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Geology of White Sand Dunes - NPS site

Geology Fieldnotes of White Sand Dunes - NPS site


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