For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit https://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.
What are aeolian features and processes?
Aeolian processes involve erosion, transportation, and deposition of sediment (loose pieces of mineral or rock) by wind.
Aeolian features are landforms, deposits or phenomena that form as a result of aeolian processes. Aeolian features include:
- sand sheets
- desert pavement
- dust storms, haze, dust devils, and sand storms
Why does the National Park Service monitor aeolian resources?
Aeolian features and processes influence ecosystems. Coastal sand dunes provide habitat and protect sensitive coastal areas. Dust storms impact air quality and may have a significant effect on the composition and nature of soils. Monitoring data from aeolian resources provides land managers with information to assist with park planning and resource protection.
- Monitoring Book
- Resource Facts
- Case Study
Geological Monitoring Book
Vital Signs Monitored
- Frequency and magnitude of dust storms
- Rate of dust deposition
- Rate of sand tranpsort
- Wind erosion rate
- Changes in total area occupied by sand dunes
- Area of stabilized and active dunes
- Dune morphology and morphometry
- Dune field sediment state
- Rates of dune migration
- Erosion and deposition patterns on dunes
Aeolian Features and Processes (PDF - 1.42MB)
Aeolian processes, involving erosion, transportation, and deposition of sediment by the wind, occur in a variety of environments including the marine and lacustrine coastal zone, semi-arid and arid regions (e.g. cold and hot deserts), and agricultural fields. Common features of these environments are a sparse or non-existent vegetation cover (either seasonally or all the time), a supply of fine sediment (clay, silt, and sand size), and strong winds. Aeolian processes are responsible for the emission and/or mobilization of dust and formation of areas of sand dunes. They largely depend on other geologic agents (e.g. rivers, waves) to supply sediment for transport.
NPS Aeolian Resource Facts
48 NPS units contain sand dunes.
NPS units with significant aeolian resources include:
- Death Valley National Park, CA & NV
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, CO
- Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN
- Kobuk Valley National Park, AK
- Mojave National Preserve, CA
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI
- White Sands National Monument, NM
- Wright Brothers National Memorial, NC
Monitoring Aeolian Resources in the National Park Service
Case study coming soon...
- Geologic Monitoring Book, Chapter 1 - Aeolian Features and Processes (PDF - 1.42MB)
- USGS Sand on the Move website
- USGS Geology of Mojave National Preserve website
- USGS Death Valley Dunes website
- INQUA Commission on Terrestrial Processes, Deposits, and History: Aeolian history of deserts and arid regions
Last Updated: January 03, 2017