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Solving the mystery of booming sand dunes

Vriend, Nathalie M. and Hunt, Melany L. and Clayton, Robert W. and Brennen, Christopher Earls and Brantley, Katherine S. and Ruiz-Angulo, Angel (2007) Solving the mystery of booming sand dunes. Geophysical Research Letters, 34 (L16). Art. No. L16306. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2007GL030276.

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Desert booming can be heard after a natural slumping event or during a sand avalanche generated by humans sliding down the slip face of a large dune. The sound is remarkable because it is composed of one dominant audible frequency (70 to 105 Hz) plus several higher harmonics. This study challenges earlier reports that the dunes’ frequency is a function of average grain size by demonstrating through extensive field measurements that the booming frequency results from a natural waveguide associated with the dune. The booming frequency is fixed by the depth of the surficial layer of dry loose sand that is sandwiched between two regions of higher compressional body wave velocity. This letter presents measurements of the booming frequencies, compressional wave velocities, depth of surficial layer, along with an analytical prediction of the frequency based on constructive interference of propagating waves generated by avalanching along the dune surface.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Hunt, Melany L.0000-0001-5592-2334
Clayton, Robert W.0000-0003-3323-3508
Ruiz-Angulo, Angel0000-0002-7292-3002
Additional Information:© 2007. American Geophysical Union. Received 4 April 2007; revised 16 May 2007; accepted 14 June 2007; published 23 August 2007. The authors would like to thank the late Ron Scott, Norman Brooks, George Rossman and Tom Heaton for their scientific suggestions and Steve Hostler and Gustavo Joseph for their guidance and help. The help of the undergraduate students Natalie Becerra, Patricio Romano-Pringles, Ransom Williams, Nora DeDontney and the late Steve Gao and many others, was essential during the field experiments at various locations. Travel and equipment support for N. M. V. was provided through funding from the Pieter Langerhuizen Lambertuszoon Fonds.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Pieter Langerhuizen Lambertuszoon FondsUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:booming, sand, dunes
Issue or Number:L16
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20111208-094334359
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Vriend, N. M., M. L. Hunt, R. W. Clayton, C. E. Brennen, K. S. Brantley, and A. Ruiz-Angulo (2007), Solving the mystery of booming sand dunes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L16306, doi:10.1029/2007GL030276.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:28368
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:08 Dec 2011 18:52
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 16:56

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