Abstract

Data for the Namib and Gran Desierto sand seas suggest that the controls of dune size and spacing are complex. The relation between dune height and spacing varies with dune type and location and reflects both dune dynamics (vertical accretion vs. migration or extension) and availability of sand. There is no general relation between dune spacing and grain size. In the Namib sand sea the height of compound and complex dunes (draas) is inversely proportional to potential sand-transport rates, whereas the height of dunes superimposed on their flanks varies directly with potential sand-transport rates. These observations can be combined with data on dune spacing to demonstrate the existence of a hierarchy of eolian dunes, each element of which responds to variations in sand-transport rates at different temporal and spatial scales. Whereas the morphology of individual simple dunes and superimposed dunes on draas is related to contemporary rates and directions of sand transport, the morphology and development of draas reflects long-term and regional patterns of sand transport and deposition.

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