Terrestrial Field Studies in the Simpson Desert, Australia

Dr. Bob Craddock
Dr. Ted Maxwell

Bob Craddock and Sharon Wilson

     

Linear dunes are the most common dune forms on Earth. They are also the only dune form that we find on all the terrestrial planets that have an atmosphere, including Mars, Venus, and Titan. Despite how common they are, however, scientists still do not have a clear understanding as to how they form. Currently, there are multiple hypotheses that have been presented that range from the sediment being transported over hundreds of kilometers from a certain location to the sediment existing locally and simply being transported vertically over a few tens of meters. Often referred to as "Australia's Dead Heart," the Simpson Desert is about the size of the state of Georgia and is covered entirely by linear dunes. We have a number of experiments set up in the Simpson Desert to test the various hypotheses for linear dune formation.

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