Elongation and migration of sand dunes

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94 Scopus citations


Two distinct processes are known to act on dynamic dunes, the process of migration by erosion on the windward side and deposition on the lee side, typical for transverse dunes, and the process of elongation typical for linear dunes. These two processes are determined by wind direction relative to the dune alignment. This article reviews the assertion that linear dunes experience lateral displacement in addition to elongation. Fieldwork on vegetated linear dunes (VLDs) and GIS work on seif dunes indicates no lateral migration for these dunes. Linear dunes can shift laterally only when a slip face, formed on the lee side, reaches the plinth of the dune. The winds from both sides of the seif dune are never symmetric; usually winds from one direction are more dominant and effective. The outcome is the formation of peaks and saddles along the dune. The strongest winds create a slip face on the lee side of the peak segments of the dune, oblique to the dune alignment, which reaches the base of the dune and displaces the peak downwind along the dune alignment. The internal structure of the seif dune is formed mostly by this dominant wind direction and gives the impression that the dune has shifted laterally. On the other hand, there are cases in which the wind directions relative to dune alignment fall between those of transverse and seif dunes. In such cases, both processes act on the dune, which subsequently experiences migration as well as elongation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-302
Number of pages10
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 10 Feb 2004


  • Aeolian processes
  • Dune dynamics
  • Internal structure
  • Linear dunes
  • Seif dunes
  • Vegetated linear dunes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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