Sand patches are one of the precursors to early stage protodunes and occur widely in both desert and coastal aeolian environments. Here we show field evidence of a mechanism to explain the initiation of sand patches on non-erodible surfaces, such as desert gravels and moist beaches. Changes in sand transport dynamics, directly associated with the height of the saltation layer and variable transport law, observed at the boundary between non-erodible and erodible surfaces lead to sand deposition on the erodible surface. This explains how sand patches can form on surfaces with limited sand availability where linear stability of dune theory does not apply. This new mechanism is supported by field observations that evidence both the change in transport rate over different surfaces and in situ patch formation that leads to modification of transport dynamics at the surface boundary.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences