Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2019, Vol. 11 Issue (5): 674-684    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0058-x
Orginal Article     
Influence of salinity and moisture on the threshold shear velocity of saline sand in the Qarhan Desert, Qaidam Basin of China: A wind tunnel experiment
Chao LI, Zhibao DONG, Shuyan YIN*(), Guoxiang CHEN, Junhuai YANG
College of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710119, China
Download: HTML     PDF(1179KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


Determination of the threshold shear velocity is essential for predicting sand transport, dust release and desertification. In this study, a wind tunnel experiment was conducted to evaluate the influence of salinity and moisture on the threshold shear velocity of saline sand. Saline sand samples (mean particle size of 164.50-186.08 μm and the total silt, clay and salt content of 0.80%-8.25%) were collected from three saline sand dunes (one barchan dune and two linear dunes) in the Qarhan Desert, Qaidam Basin of China. Original saline sand samples were placed in two experimental trays for wet and dry processing to simulate deliquescence and desiccation, respectively. Surface moisture content ranging from 0.30% to 1.90% was generated by the steam method so that the saline sand can absorb water in a saturated water vapor environment. The motion of sand particles was determined by the observers with a solid laser. The laser sheet (0.80 cm thick), which was emitted by the solid laser, horizontally covered the sand surface and was bound to the sand. Results show that the cohesion of saline sand results from a combination of salt and water. The threshold shear velocity increases exponentially with the increase in crust thickness for the linear sand dunes. There is a positive linear correlation between the original moisture content and relative threshold shear velocity. The threshold shear velocity of dewatered sand is greater than that of wet sand with the same original moisture content. Our results will provide valuable information about the sand transport of highly saline soil in the desert.

Key wordsthreshold shear velocity      saline sand      barchan dune      linear dune      crust thickness      moisture content      Qaidam Basin     
Received: 18 April 2018      Published: 10 October 2019
Corresponding Authors:
About author:

The first and second authors contributed equally to this work.

Cite this article:

Chao LI, Zhibao DONG, Shuyan YIN, Guoxiang CHEN, Junhuai YANG. Influence of salinity and moisture on the threshold shear velocity of saline sand in the Qarhan Desert, Qaidam Basin of China: A wind tunnel experiment. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(5): 674-684.

URL:     OR

[1] Anderson R S, Sørensen M, Willetts B B.1991. A review of recent progress in our understanding of aeolian sediment transport. In: Barndorff-Nielsen O E, Willetts B B. Aeolian Grain Transport 1 Mechanics. New York: Springer-Verlag Wien, 1-19.
[2] Argaman E, Singer A, Tsoar H.2006. Erodibility of some crust forming soils/sediments from the Southern Aral Sea Basin as determined in a wind tunnel. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 31(1): 47-63.
[3] Bagnold R A.1941. The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes. New York: Springer Netherlands, 85-94.
[4] Bao F.2016. The development environment and processes of aeolian geomorphology around Qaidam Basin Qarhan Salt Lake. PhD Dissertation. Xi'an: Shaanxi Normal University. (in Chinese)
[5] Belly P Y.1964. Sand movement by wind. In: Technical Memorandum NO.1. US Army Coastal Engineering Research Center, USA.
[6] Belnap J, Gillette D A.1998. Vulnerability of desert biological soil crusts to wind erosion: the influences of crust development, soil texture, and disturbance. Journal of Arid Environments, 39(2): 133-142.
[7] Brungard C W, Boettinger J L, Hipps L E.2015. Wind erosion potential of lacustrine and alluvial soils before and after disturbance in the eastern Great Basin, USA: Estimating threshold friction velocity using easier-to-measure soil properties. Aeolian Research, 18: 185-203.
[8] Castellanos A.2005. The relationship between attractive interparticle forces and bulk behaviour in dry and uncharged fine powders. Advances in Physics, 54(4): 263-376.
[9] Chen Y, Tarchitzky J, Brouwer J, et al.1980. Scanning electron microscope observations on soil crusts and their formation. Soil Science, 130(1): 49-55.
[10] Chepil W S.1956. Influence of moisture on erodibility of soil by wind. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 20(2): 288-292.
[11] Chepil W S.1958. Soil Conditions that Influence Wind Erosion. Washington: Technical Bulletins, 1-38.
[12] Davidson-Arnott R G D, Yang Y, Ollerhead J, et al.2008. The effects of surface moisture on aeolian sediment transport threshold and mass flux on a beach. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 33(1): 55-74.
[13] Dong Z B, Liu X P, Wang X M.2002. Wind initiation thresholds of the moistened sands. Geophysical Research Letters, 29(12): 1585, doi: 10.1029/2001GL013128.
[14] Dong Z B, Wang H T, Liu X P, et al.2004. The blown sand flux over a sandy surface: a wind tunnel investigation on the fetch effect. Geomorphology, 57(1-2): 117-127.
[15] Dong Z B, Hu G Y, Qian G Q, et al.2017. High-altitude aeolian research on the Tibetan Plateau. Reviews of Geophysics, 55(4): 864-901.
[16] Ellis J T, Sherman D J.2013. Fundamentals of aeolian sediment transport: Wind-blown sand. In: Shroder J F. Treatise on Geomorphology. San Diego: Academic Press, 85-108.
[17] Folk R L, Ward W C.1957. Brazos river bar: a study in the significance of grain size parameters. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 27(1): 3-26.
[18] Gillette D A, Adams J, Muhs D, et al.1982. Threshold friction velocities and rupture moduli for crusted desert soils for the input of soil particles into the air. Journal of Geophysical Research, 87(C11): 9003-9015.
[19] Gomes L, Arrúe J L, López M V, et al.2003. Wind erosion in a semiarid agricultural area of Spain: the WELSONS project. Catena, 52(3-4): 235-256.
[20] Ishizuka M, Mikami M, Leys J, et al.2008. Effects of soil moisture and dried raindroplet crust on saltation and dust emission. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113(D24): D24212, doi: 10.1029/2008JD009955.
[21] Kok J F, Parteli E J R, Michaels T I, et al.2012. The physics of wind-blown sand and dust. Reports on Progress in Physics, 75(10): 106901, doi: 10.1088/0034-4885/75/10/106901.
[22] Leys J F, Eldridge D J.1998. Influence of cryptogamic crust disturbance to wind erosion on sand and loam rangeland soils. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 23(11): 963-974.
[23] Li J Y, Dong Z B, Zhang Z C, et al.2015. Grain-size characteristics of linear dunes on the northern margin of Qarhan Salt Lake, northwestern China. Journal of Arid Land, 7(4): 438-449.
[24] Li J Y, Dong Z B, Qian G Q, et al.2016. Pattern analysis of a linear dune field on the northern margin of Qarhan Salt Lake, northwestern China. Journal of Arid Land, 8(5): 670-680.
[25] Martin R L, Kok J F.2017. Field measurements demonstrate distinct initiation and cessation thresholds governing aeolian sediment transport flux. [2017-07-31]. .
[26] Musick H B, Trujillo S M, Truman C R, et al.1996. Wind-tunnel modelling of the influence of vegetation structure on saltation threshold. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 21(7): 589-605.
[27] Namikas S L, Sherman D J.1995. A review of the effects of surface moisture content on aeolian sand transport. In: Tchakerian V P. Desert Aeolian Processes. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media, 269-293.
[28] Nickling W G.1978. Eolian sediment transport during dust storms: Slims River Valley, Yukon Territory. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 15(7): 1069-1084.
[29] Nickling W G, Ecclestone M.1981. The effects of soluble salts on the threshold shear velocity of fine sand. Sedimentology, 28(4): 505-510.
[30] Nickling W G.1984. The stabilizing role of bonding agents on the entrainment of sediment by wind. Sedimentology, 31(1): 111-117.
[31] Nickling W G.1988. The initiation of particle movement by wind. Sedimentology, 35(3): 499-511.
[32] Nickling W G, Neuman C M.2009. Aeolian sediment transport. In: Abrahams A D, Parsons A J. Geomorphology of Desert Environments. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media, 517-555.
[33] Nield J M, Neuman C M, O'Brien P, et al.2016. Evaporative sodium salt crust development and its wind tunnel derived transport dynamics under variable climatic conditions. Aeolian Research, 23: 51-62.
[34] Orlovsky N, Orlovsky L, Yang Y, et al.2003. Salt duststorms of Central Asia since 1960s. Journal of Desert Research, 23(1): 18-27. (in Chinese)
[35] Pullen A, Kapp P, McCallister A T, et al.2011. Qaidam Basin and northern Tibetan Plateau as dust sources for the Chinese Loess Plateau and paleoclimatic implications. Geology, 39(11): 1031-1034.
[36] Pye K.1980. Beach salcrete and eolian sand transport: evidence from north Queensland. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 50(1): 257-261.
[37] Pye K, Tsoar H.2009. Aeolian Sand and Sand Dunes. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer Science+Business Media, 99-113.
[38] Raffaele L, Bruno L, Pellerey F, et al.2016. Windblown sand saltation: A statistical approach to fluid threshold shear velocity. Aeolian Research, 23: 79-91.
[39] Raffaele L, Bruno L, Wiggs G F S.2018. Uncertainty propagation in aeolian processes: From threshold shear velocity to sand transport rate. Geomorphology, 301: 28-38.
[40] Ravi S, Zobeck T M, Over T M, et al.2006. On the effect of moisture bonding forces in air-dry soils on threshold friction velocity of wind erosion. Sedimentology, 53(3): 597-609.
[41] Rohrmann A, Heermance R, Kapp P, et al.2013. Wind as the primary driver of erosion in the Qaidam Basin, China. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 374(4): 1-10.
[42] Rubin D M, Hesp P A.2009. Multiple origins of linear dunes on Earth and Titan. Nature Geoscience, 3(2): 653-658.
[43] Rubin D M, Rubin A M.2013. Origin and lateral migration of linear dunes in the Qaidam Basin of NW China revealed by dune sediments, internal structures, and optically stimulated luminescence ages, with implications for linear dunes on Titan: Discussion. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 125(11-12): 1943-1946.
[44] Shao Y P, Lu H.2000. A simple expression for wind erosion threshold friction velocity. Journal of Geophysical Research, 105(D17): 22437-22443.
[45] Shao Y P.2008. Physics and Modelling of Wind Erosion. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media, 134-145.
[46] Shao Y P, Klose M.2016. A note on the stochastic nature of particle cohesive force and implications to threshold friction velocity for aerodynamic dust entrainment. Aeolian Research, 22: 123-125.
[47] Sharratt B S, Vaddella V.2014. Threshold friction velocity of crusted windblown soils in the Columbia Plateau. Aeolian Research, 15: 227-234.
[48] Sherman D J, Jackson D W T, Namikas S L, et al.1998. Wind-blown sand on beaches: an evaluation of models. Geomorphology, 22: 113-133.
[49] Udden J A.1914. Mechanical composition of clastic sediments. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 25(1): 655-744.
[50] Wang X M, Hua T, Zhang C X, et al.2013. Salts in the clay playas of China's arid regions: gone with the wind. Environmental Earth Sciences, 68(3): 623-631.
[51] Wentworth C K.1922. A scale of grade and class terms for clastic sediments. Journal of Geology, 30(5): 377-392.
[52] Wilkinson R H.1983. A method for evaluating statistical errors associated with logarithmic velocity profiles. Geo-Marine Letters, 3(1): 49-52.
[53] Williams J J, Butterfield G R, Clark D G.1990. Rates of aerodynamic entrainment in a developing boundary layer. Sedimentology, 37(6): 1039-1048.
[54] Wolfe S A, Hugenholtz C H.2009. Barchan dunes stabilized under recent climate warming on the northern Great Plains. Geology, 37(11): 1039-1042.
[55] Xi X, Sokolik I N.2015. Seasonal dynamics of threshold friction velocity and dust emission in Central Asia. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 120(4): 1536-1564.
[56] Xiao L, Wang J, Dang Y, et al.2017. A new terrestrial analogue site for Mars research: The Qaidam Basin, Tibetan Plateau (NW China). Earth-Science Reviews, 164: 84-101.
[57] Yan Y C, Wu L H, Xin X P, et al.2015. How rain-formed soil crust affects wind erosion in a semi-arid steppe in northern China. Geoderma, 249-250: 79-86.
[58] Zhang X Y, Gong S L, Zhao T L, et al.2003. Sources of Asian dust and role of climate change versus desertification in Asian dust emission. Geophysical Research Letters, 30(24): 2272, doi: 10.1029/2003GL018206.
[59] Zhang Z, Dong Z, Zhao A, et al.2008. The effect of restored microbiotic crusts on erosion of soil from a desert area in China. Journal of Arid Environments, 72(5): 710-721.
[60] Zhang Z C, Dong Z B, Li J Y, et al.2016. Implications of surface properties for dust emission from gravel deserts (gobis) in the Hexi Corridor. Geoderma, 268: 69-77.
[61] Zhang Z C, Dong Z B, Qian G Q, et al.2018. Formation and development of dunes in the northern Qarhan Desert, central Qaidam Basin, China. Geological Journal, 53(3): 1123-1134.
[62] Zhou J X, Zhu Y, Yuan C Q.2012. Origin and lateral migration of linear dunes in the Qaidam Basin of NW China revealed by dune sediments, internal structures, and optically stimulated luminescence ages, with implications for linear dunes on Titan. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 124(7-8): 1147-1154.
[63] Zimon A D.1982. Adhesion of Dust and Powder. Boston: Springer Science+Business Media, 1-36.
[64] Zobeck T M.1991. Soil properties affecting wind erosion. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 46(2): 112-118.
[1] CHANG Chang, CHANG Yu, GUO Meng, HU Yuanman. Modelling the dead fuel moisture content in a grassland of Ergun City, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(6): 710-723.
[2] WANG Yuxia, ZHANG Jing, YU Xiaojun. Effects of mulch and planting methods on Medicago ruthenica seed yield and soil physical-chemical properties[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(8): 894-909.
[3] Hossein GHAZANFARPOUR, Mohsen POURKHOSRAVANI, Sayed H MOUSAVI, Ali MEHRABI. Mathematical and statistical modeling of morphometric and planar parameters of barchans in Pashoeyeh Erg in the west of Lut Desert, Iran[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(8): 801-813.
[4] LI Jiyan, QU Xin, DONG Zhibao, CAI Yingying, LIU Min, REN Xiaozong, CUI Xujia. Contribution of underlying terrain to sand dunes: evidence from the Qaidam Basin, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(12): 1215-1229.
[5] ZHANG Chaobo, LIU Yating, LIU Pengchong, JIANG Jing, YANG Qihong. Untangling the influence of soil moisture on root pullout property of alfafa plant[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(4): 666-675.
[6] Xuemin GAO, Zhibao DONG, Zhenghu DUAN, Min LIU, Xujia CUI, Jiyan LI. Wind regime for long-ridge yardangs in the Qaidam Basin, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(5): 701-712.
[7] Yuchen WANG, Zhengfu BIAN, Shaogang LEI, Yu ZHANG. Investigating spatial and temporal variations of soil moisture content in an arid mining area using an improved thermal inertia model[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(5): 712-726.
[8] LI Jiyan, DONG Zhibao, QIAN Guangqiang, ZHANG Zhengcai, LUO Wanyin, LU Junfeng, WANG Meng. Pattern analysis of a linear dune field on the northern margin of Qarhan Salt Lake, northwestern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(5): 670-680.
[9] LI Jiyan, DONG Zhibao, ZHANG Zhengcai, QIAN Guangqiang, LUO Wanyin, LU Junfeng. Grain-size characteristics of linear dunes on the northern margin of Qarhan Salt Lake, northwestern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(4): 438-449.
[10] Ali Al-MAKTOUMI, Said Al-ISMAILY, Anvar KACIMOV, Hamed Al-BUSAIDI, Said Al-SAQRI, Mansour Al-HADABI. Soil substrate as a cascade of capillary barriers for conserving water in a desert environment: lessons learned from arid nature[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(6): 690-703.
[11] WenBin ZHU, AiFeng LV, ShaoFeng JIA. Spatial distribution of vegetation and the influencing factors in Qaidam Basin based on NDVI[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2011, 3(2): 85-93.
[12] Qing HE, XingHua YANG, Ali Mamtimin, ShiHao TANG. Impact factors of soil wind erosion in the center of Taklimakan Desert[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2011, 3(1): 9-14.