Please wait a minute...
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
Download: HTML     PDF(1632KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


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:
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.

URL:     OR

[1] Allen J R L.1970. A quantitative model of climbing ripples and their cross laminated deposits. Sedimentology, 14(1-2): 5-26.
[2] Andreotti B, Fourrière A, Ould-Kaddour F, et al.2009. Giant aeolian dune size determined by the average depth of the atmospheric boundary layer. Nature, 457(7233): 1120-1123.
[3] Bagnold R A.2005. The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes.New York:Dover Publications Press, 55-56, 149-153.
[4] Beveridge C, Kocurek G, Ewing R C, et al.2006. Development of spatially diverse and complex dune-field patterns: Gran Desierto Dune Field, Sonora, Mexico. Sedimentology, 53(6): 1391-1409.
[5] Bullard J E, Nash D J.1998. Linear dune pattern variability in the vicinity of dry valleys in the southwest Kalahari. Geomorphology, 23(1): 35-54.
[6] Bullard J E, Nash D J.2000. Valley-marginal sand dunes in the south-west Kalahari: their nature, classification and possible origins. Journal of Arid Environments, 45(4): 369-383.
[7] Bullard J E, McTainsh G H.2003. Aeolian-fluvial interactions in dryland environments: examples, concepts and Australia case study. Progress in Physical Geography, 27(4): 471-501.
[8] Bullard J E, Wiggs G F S, Nash D J.2000. Experimental study of wind directional variability in the vicinity of a model valley. Geomorphology, 35(1): 127-143.
[9] Chen W, Dong Z, 1995. Threshold velocities of sand-driving wind in the Taklimakan Desert. Acta GeographicaSinica,50(4):361-367.(in Chinese)
[10] Dong Z, Lu J, Man D, et al.2011. Equations for the near-surface mass flux density profile of wind-blown sediments. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 36(10): 1292-1299.
[11] Duan Z H, Xiao H L, Li X R, et al.2004. Evolution of soil properties on stabilized sands in the Tengger Desert, China. Geomorphology, 59(1-4): 237-246.
[12] Frank A, Kocurek G.1996. Toward a model for airflow on the lee side of aeolian dunes. Sedimentology, 43(3): 451-458.
[13] Garvey B, Castro I P, Wiggs G, et al.2005. Measurements of flows over isolated valleys. Bound-Layer Meteorol, 117(3): 417-446.
[14] Ha S, Wang G.1996. Grain size variation on transverse dune in connection with slope morphology at southeastern fringe of Tengger Desert. Journal of Desert Research, 16(3): 216-221. (in Chinese)
[15] Han G, Zhang G F, Yang W B.2004. A quantitative analysis for the Provenance of dune sand in the HulunBuir Sandy Land: application of stepwise discriminant analysis to the granulometric data. Acta GeographicaSinica, 59(2): 189-196. (in Chinese)
[16] Han G, Zhang G, Dong Y.2007. A model for the active origin and development of source-bordering dunefields on a semiarid fluvial plain: a case study from the Xiliaohe Plain, Northeast China. Geomorphology, 86(3): 512-524.
[17] Han G, Zhang G, You L, et al.2015. A mechanism for the origin and development of the large-scale dunefield on the right flank of Laoha River, Northeast China. Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions, 7(1): 29-39.
[18] Hunter R E, 1977. Terminology of cross-stratified sedimentary layers and climbing-ripple structures. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 47: 697-706.
[19] Ivester A H, Leigh D S, Godfrey-Smith D I.2001. Chronology of inland eolian dunes on the Coastal Plain of Georgia, USA. Quaternary Research, 55(3): 293-302.
[20] Ivester A H, Leigh D S.2003. Riverine dunes on the Coastal Plain of Georgia, USA. Geomorphology, 51(4): 289-311.
[21] Ji Q H, 1992. The granularity characteristic of deposit in Keriya Drainage. Arid Zone Research, 9(3): 48-56. (in Chinese)
[22] Ji Q H, 1996. Application of grain size analysis in the studies of Taklimakan Desert. Journal of Desert Research, 16(2): 173-179. (in Chinese)
[23] Kocurek G.1981. Significance of interdune deposits and bounding surfaces in aeolian dune sands. Sedimentology, 28(6): 753-780.
[24] Kocurek G, Havholm KG.1994. Eolian sequence stratigraphy-a conceptual framework. In: Weimer P, Posamentier H W. Siliciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy. American Association Petroleum Geologists Memoir, 58: 393-409.
[25] Li X R, Wang X P, Li T, et al.2002. Microbiotic soil crust and its effect on vegetation and habitat on artificially stabilized desert dunes in Tengger Desert, North China. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 35(3): 147-154.
[26] Li E J, Dong Z B, Zhao J B.2011. Grain size distribution of the aeolian sediments on the stoss slope of a typical mega-dune in the Badain Jaran Desert. Geography of Arid Areas, 34(3): 471-478.
[27] Li E., 2011. A comparative study on sediment characteristics of Badain Jilin Desert and Tengger Desert. MSc Thesis. Xi'an:Shanxi Normal University. (in Chinese)
[28] Liu X W, Li S, Shen J Y.1999. Wind tunnel simulation experiment of mountain dunes. Journal of Arid Environments, 42(1): 49-59.
[29] Lubke R A, Webb C.2016. The interaction between the dunes systems and the lower estuary at the Bushmans River Mouth, Eastern Cape over the past 60 years. South African Journal of Botany, 107: 148-159.
[30] Maroulis J C, Nanson G C, Price D M, et al.2007. Aeolian-fluvial interaction and climate change: source-bordering dune development over the past~100 ka on Cooper Creek, central Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 26(3-4): 386-404.
[31] Page K J.1971. Riverine source bordering sand dune. Australian Geographer, 11(6): 603-605.
[32] Qian Y B.1991. A Preliminary study on the origin of sand in the HetianRiver Basin of the Taklimakan Desert.Arid Zone Research,8(4): 48-51. (in Chinese)
[33] Qian Y B, Zhang X M, Li X M.1995. A study on grain-size features of sand material of the oases in the southern margin of the Taklimakan Desert. Journal of Desert Research, 15(2): 131-135. (in Chinese)
[34] Qian Y B, Zhou X J, Li C S, et al.2001. Multi-sources of sand minerals for the deserts in the Jungger Basin. Journal of Desert Research, 21(2): 182-187.(in Chinese)
[35] Rubin D M, Hunter R E.1982. Bedform climbing in theory and nature. Sedimentology, 29(1): 121-138.
[36] Sierputowski P, Ostrowski J, Cenedese A.1995. Experimental study of wind flow over the model of a valley. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, 57(2-3): 127-136.
[37] Xu Z, Lu H, Zhao C.2010. Composition, origin and weathering process of surface sediment in Kumtagh Desert, Northwest China. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 65(1): 53-64.
[38] Wang T, Zhang W M, Dong Z B, et al.2005. The dynamic characteristic and migration of a pyramid dune. Sedimentology, 52(3): 12.
[39] Wang X M, Zhang C X, Zhang J W, et al.2010. Nebkha formation: implications for reconstructing environmental changes over the past several centuries in the Ala Shan Plateau, China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 297(3): 697-706.
[40] Wiggs G F S, Livingstone I, Warren A.1996. The role of streamline curvature in sand dune dynamics: evidence from field and wind tunnel measurements. Geomorphology, 17(1): 29-46.
[41] Yang Y C, 1984. Preliminary observation of aeolian sand landform in the YurlungZangbo Valley. Journal of Desert Research, 4(3): 12-15.(in Chinese)
[42] Yan P, Li X M, Ma Y F, et al.2015. Morphological characteristics of interactions between deserts and rivers in northern China. Aeolian Research, 19: 225-233.
[43] Yi X Y, Zhao H L, Zhang T H, et al.2005. Influence of wind-sand flow on soil erosion. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 19(3): 59-61. (in Chinese)
[1] LI Wen, MU Guijin, YE Changsheng, XU Lishuai, LI Gen. Aeolian activity in the southern Gurbantunggut Desert of China during the last 900 years[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(6): 649-666.
[2] CHEN Zongyan, XIAO Fengjun, DONG Zhibao. Fetch effect on the developmental process of aeolian sand transport in a wind tunnel[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(3): 436-446.
[3] Wen SHANG, Yuqiang LI, Xueyong ZHAO, Tonghui ZHANG, Quanlin MA, Jinnian TANG, Jing FENG, Na SU. Effects of Caragana microphylla plantations on organic carbon sequestration in total and labile soil organic carbon fractions in the Horqin Sandy Land, northern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(5): 688-700.
[4] JIA Wenru, ZHANG Chunlai, LI Shengyu, WANG Haifeng, MA Xuexi, WANG Ningbo. Grain size distribution at four developmental stages of crescent dunes in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(5): 722-733.
[5] YUE Xiangfei, ZHANG Tonghui, ZHAO Xueyong, LIU Xinping, MA Yunhua. Effects of rainfall patterns on annual plants in Horqin Sandy Land, Inner Mongolia of China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(3): 389-398.
[6] DeMing JIANG, ChengYou CAO, Ying ZHANG, ZhenBo CUI, XiaoShu HAN. Plantations of native shrub species restore soil microbial diversity in the Horqin Sandy Land, northeastern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(4): 445-453.
[7] DeMing JIANG, ChunPing MIAO, XueHua LI, XiaoLan LI, ALAMUSA, QuanLai ZHOU. Spatial heterogeneity of plant species on the windward slope of active sand dunes in a semi-arid region of China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(1): 80-88.
[8] Jie LIAN, XueYong ZHAO, XiaoAn ZUO, ShaoKun WANG, XinYuan WANG, YongQing LUO. Land cover changes and the effects of cultivation on soil properties in Shelihu wetland, Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(1): 71-79.
[9] YinPing CHEN, YuQiang LI, Tala AWADA, JuanJuan HAN, YongQing LUO. Carbon sequestration in the total and light fraction soil organic matter along a chronosequence in grazing exclosures in a semiarid degraded sandy site in China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(4): 411-419.
[10] ShaoKun WANG, XueYong ZHAO, Hao QU, YaYong LUO, JianYing YUN. Variation in soil water content to rainfall under Caragana microphylla shrub in Horqin Sandy Land[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2010, 2(3): 174-179.
[11] YiBing QIAN, ZhaoNing WU, HaiFeng YANG, Chao JIANG. Spatial heterogeneity for grain size distribution of eolian sand soil on longitudinal dunes in the southern Gurbantunggut Desert[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2009, 1(1): 26-33.