Sand Dunes -
Death Valley National Park
Mesquite Flats Dunes, Stovepipe Wells
In Death Valley, sand dunes are less common than
might be expected. Five widely separated dune fields
exist in the national park--yet they account for
only a fraction of the total acreage. Sand is
scattered throughout the desert, but in only a few
places is it gathered by the interaction of wind
and mountains to form dunes.
Winds blowing through Death Valley are slowed here
at the Mesquite Dunes by the changing shape of the
valley and towering Tucki Mountain. The weakened
winds cannot carry their cargo of sand any farther.
Quartz grains, scoured from the surrounding
mountains, compose the deposited sands. While winds
constantly shape and reshape individual sand dunes,
the dune field itself does not move.
Moderate winds blowing predominantly in one direction
form transverse dunes. Winds blowing from several
directions create non-migratory star dunes. The
development of different dune types here indicate
a complex wind flow pattern.