Abstract

Sand supply is a major controlling factor on parabolic dune form and stratigraphy in inland settings. In this study, aerial photographs, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), and stratigraphic analysis document the morphodynamics of an individual and compound parabolic dune in the Bigstick Sand Hills, southwestern Saskatchewan. Migration rates for the last 60 years are comparable, although the profile morphologies differ, with the individual dune having a more aerodynamic form. Stratigraphic facies are also similar in both dune types, but the overall internal architecture imaged by GPR differs considerably. Configurations of cross-strata parallel to the downwind axis represent dominant foreset development and lee-slope slipface advance of the individual dune, and impeded slipface development of the compound dune. Stratigraphy transverse to the downwind axis represents radial deposition and foreset development at the individual dune, and vertical accumulation at the compound dune. The overall difference in parabolic dune form and stratigraphy is attributed to variations in sand supply, which determine vegetation development and sedimentation processes along the crest and lee slope. Sand supplied from active blowouts upwind of the individual dune inhibits vegetation colonization on the dune, whereas an absence of sand supply upwind of the compound dune leads to high levels of vegetation cover on the dune. Once supply drops below a threshold level, vegetation cover increases, causing sediment deposition and vertical accretion, and ultimately changing dune form. Overall, this study demonstrates that local sand supply and feedback processes are critical to understanding dune development in vegetated, inland settings.

You do not currently have access to this article.