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Journal of Arid Land  2019, Vol. 11 Issue (4): 525-536    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0102-x
Sand source and formation mechanism of riverine sand dunes: a case study in Xiangshui River, China
Yong WANG1,2, Ping YAN1,2,*(), Guang HAN3, Wei WU1,2, Run ZHANG4
1 Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
3 College of Resources and Environment, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
4 Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
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Riverine sand dunes develop as a result of fluvial-aeolian interactions. The primarily barchan dune chains along the Xiangshui River (a branch of the Xar Moron River in the western part of the Horqin Sandy Land of China) form a typical riverine dune field. We collected a series of samples from the riverine sand dunes parallel to the direction of the prevailing wind and investigated the sand sources and formation mechanisms of these dunes by determining the grain size, heavy mineral content and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) of the samples. The sand of the near-river dunes was coarser than the sand of the dunes distant from the river, indicating that coarse sand of the valley mainly deposited on near-river dunes. The heavy mineral analysis suggested that wind-sand activity levels were intense on the upwind dunes, but relatively weak on the downwind dunes. This indicated that the sand sources for the near-river dunes were more abundant than those of the distant dunes. Our OSL analysis of samples suggested that the deposition rates on dunes near the river were greater than the deposition rates on dunes distant from the river. The development of dunes along the river indicated that the river played an important role in dune formation and development. In addition, airflow fluctuation and the formation of the waveform dunes had a type of feedback relationship. Grain size, heavy mineral and OSL analyses are widely used methods in wind-sand research. Sand dune grain size characteristics reflect the effects of airflow on the transport and separation of sand materials, as well as the physical characteristics of the sand sources. Heavy mineral characteristics are often used to investigate the relationships between sediments and sand sources. OSL indicates dune age, revealing formation of dunes. Therefore, it is useful to explore dune sand sources, as well as the mechanisms underlying dune formation, by determining grain size, heavy mineral content and OSL. This study investigated the sand sources of riverine dunes and provided new information about riverine dune formation and development.

Key wordsriverine dune      grain size      heavy mineral      optically stimulated luminescence (OSL)      Horqin Sandy Land     
Received: 08 August 2018      Published: 10 August 2019
Fund:  This study is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41271025) and the National Basic Research Program of China (2016YFA0601901).
Corresponding Authors: Ping YAN     E-mail:
About author:

The first and second authors contributed equally to this work.

Cite this article:

Yong WANG, Ping YAN, Guang HAN, Wei WU, Run ZHANG. Sand source and formation mechanism of riverine sand dunes: a case study in Xiangshui River, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(4): 525-536.

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