This paper presents a method for determining the direction of strong winds in the desert environment by observing wind-developed geologic landforms and biologic features. Techniques and a case study from southern California are presented to provide the engineering geologist with field methods helpful in evaluating the potential hazards of desert aeolian processes.

Three hundred thirty-five strong wind direction measurements were recorded in the northwestern Coachella Valley, California, in order to determine the air movement pattern. Data were gathered between February and July 1975, and were obtained from geomorphic (sand drift deposits and barchan dunes) and biologic (plants) indicators. Air flows southeast from the Whitewater Pass topographic constriction through the Coachella Valley.

Local topography appears to be the major factor affecting air movements within the Valley. Techniques presented here provide the engineering geologist with a method to aid in siting structures and highways in strong wind areas.

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