The study of desert dunes in Australia
Most of the early explorers were bewildered by the features they encountered in the Australian deserts, but Sturt's observations led him to speculate on the origin of the sand ridges that were so much a part of his desert experience. Scientific investigations of the dunes, however, awaited the twentieth century. In the 1930s Madigan made signal contributions to the understanding of the features, but he also raised as many problems as he resolved. Post-war investigations by King and those due to Wopfner, initially related but incidental to the search of oil and gas, have done much to clarify the dynamics of dune development. More recently, luminescence dating has allowed the sand ridges, as well as periods of lake fill and alluviation, to be dated with some confidence. Chronological research has been extended to include the major palaeodunefields of southern Australia.