BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Sand residence times of one million years in the Namib Sand Sea from cosmogenic nuclides

    Vermeesch, Pieter and Fenton, C.R. and Kober, F. and Wiggs, G.F.S. and Bristow, Charlie S. and Xu, S. (2010) Sand residence times of one million years in the Namib Sand Sea from cosmogenic nuclides. Nature Geoscience 3 (12), pp. 862-865. ISSN 1752-0894.

    Full text not available from this repository.


    The Namib Sand Sea is one of the world’s oldest and largest sand deserts1, yet little is known about the source of the sand in this, or other large deserts2. In particular, it is unclear whether the sand is derived from local sediment or comes from remote sources. The relatively uniform appearance of dune sands and low compositional variability within dune fields3 make it difficult to address this question. Here we combine cosmogenic-nuclide measurements and geochronological techniques to assess the provenance and migration history of sand grains in the Namib Sand Sea. We use U–Pb geochronology of detrital zircons to show that the primary source of sand is the Orange River at the southern edge of the Namib desert. Our burial ages obtained from measurements of the cosmogenic nuclides 10Be, 26Al and 21Ne suggest that the residence time of sand within the sand sea is at least one million years. We therefore conclude that, despite large climatic changes in the Namib region associated with Quaternary glacial–interglacial cycles4, 5, the area currently occupied by the Namib Sand Sea has never been entirely devoid of sand during the past million years.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Natural Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2011 14:24
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:54


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item