News Karnataka
Wednesday, April 17 2024

Earth’s Oldest Star Dunes Mystery Finally Solved by Scientists

Photo Credit : Google

The mystery surrounding the age of the largest sand dunes on Earth has finally been resolved by researchers in a ground-breaking study. As per the BBC, these dunes, which are also referred to as “Star dunes” or “pyramid dunes,” are named after their unique shapes and can reach heights of hundreds of meters. They are found on Mars, Titan, Saturn’s moon, and in deserts all over the world, including the sand seas of Africa, Arabia, China, and North America.

Prof Geoff Duller of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth said, ”They are extraordinary things, one of the natural wonders of the world. From the ground, they look like pyramids but from the air, you see a peak and radiating off it in three or four directions these arms make them look like stars.”

Now, researchers have estimated the age of one such star dune called Lala Lallia in Morocco, for the first time. The scientists used a technique called luminescence dating to work out the age of the star dune. The method calculates when the grains of sand were last exposed to daylight.

The UK research team traveled to the southeast of Morocco to investigate the 700-meter-wide and 100-meter-high Lala Lallia for the study.The upper portion of the structure had only formed in the last 1,000 years or so, according to their discovery, which put the dune’s base at 13,000 years old, according to The Guardian. The dune grew by 6,400 metric tonnes annually during its 900-year formation.It stopped growing for approximately 8,000 years after it first formed, and in the last few thousand years, it has rapidly expanded again.

These findings, according to researchers, support the hypothesis that the star dune’s formation and the gradual change in wind direction are related.

Birkbeck University’s and fellow study co-author Charlie Bristow explained, ”Star dunes are formed in areas with complex wind regimes, which means winds blowing from different directions, and net sand accumulation, points within the desert where big piles of sand can be blown around to form giant dunes. They form extraordinary and awe-inspiring landscapes… From the ground they can be intimidating, mobile mountains of sand.”

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