Formation of Wind-Erodible Aggregates for Salty Soils and Soils with Less Than 50% Sand Composition in Natural Terrestrial Environments

  • Ray H. Breuninger
  • Dale A. Gillette
  • Rolf Kihl
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 282)


Of nine possible mechanisms for the formation of non-sandy, wind-erodible aggregates from a more homogeneous soil or sediment, five are found to be widespread in arid and semiarid regions. In approximate order of significance, the most important mechanisms are tension and compression fracturing of shrinkable mud or soil during wet/dry cycles; tension fracturing and molding by compression during freeze/thaw cycles; direct abrasion (corrosion); fracturing and aggregation produced by salt efflorescence; and mechanical disturbance of surface materials by animals. A sixth mechanism (in soils) is by surface films, colloidal matting, or cements. Minor mechanisms are: floatation and lofting of foam and fracturing caused by hydration expansion or other chemical weathering of fine-grained bedrock. The flocculation of small particles in a water suspension or wet mud is a possible minor mechanism not yet observed. Surface soils and sediments with more than 28% clay and more than 2% organic material formed wind-erodible aggregates, but organic-poor materials did not. Calcareous loams, silt loams, silty clay loams, and clay loams formed wind-erodible aggregates, but non-calcareous materials of the same textures did not. Salt efflorescence was locally a major mechanism for production of wind-erodible aggregates. An experiment with expandible (high smectite content) clay shows that wet/dry cycles (such as might result from several summer rain showers on a dry lake bed) can produce wind-erodible aggregates without high temperatures or lengthy droughts and in the absence of salt efflorescence. For example, cold-climate clay dunes (now inactive) fringe ephemeral lakes in deflation basins in Montana at windy semiarid sites with short hot summers and intensely cold winters.


Wind Erosion Silty Clay Loam Threshold Friction Velocity Salt Efflorescence Clayey Siltstone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arvidson, R.E., 1972: Aeolian processes on Mars: Erosive velocities, settling velocities, and yellow clouds, Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull., 83: 1503–1508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagnold, R.A., 1941: The Physics of Blown Dust and Desert Dunes, Methuen, London, 265 pp.Google Scholar
  3. Barone, J.B., Ashbaugh, L.L., Kusko, B.H., and Cahill, T.A., 1981: The effect of Owens Dry Lake on air quality in the Owens Valley with implications for the Mono Lake Area, Am. Chem. Soc. Sympos., Ser. 67: 237–345.Google Scholar
  4. Baver, L.D., Gardner, W.H., and Gardner, W.R., 1972: Soil Physics, Fourth Edition, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 498 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Bowler, J.M., 1973: Clay dunes: Their occurrence, formation and environmental significance, Earth Sci. Rev., 9: 315–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bryan, R.B., 1974: Water erosion by splash and wash and the erodibility of Albertan soils, Geograf. Annal., 56: 159–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buckman, H.O., and Brady, N.C., 1970: The Nature and Properties of Soils, Macmillan, London, 653 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Caine, N., Morin, P., and Nicholas, R.M., 1977: Significance of frost action and surface soil characteristics to wind erosion at Rocky Flats, Colorado, Third Progress Report, Oct. 1, 1976-June 1977, ERDA-510500, ERDA-510100, U7805, 65 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Chepil, W.S., 1945: Dynamics of wind erosion, II: Initiation of soil movement, Soil Sci., 60: 397–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chepil, W.S., and Woodruff, N.P., 1963: The physics of wind erosion and its control, In: Norman, A.G. (Ed.),Advances in Agronomy, v. 15, Academic Press, New York, pp. 1–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corte, A., and Higashi, A., 1964: Experimental research on desiccation cracks in soil, Research Report 66, U.S. Army Materiel Command, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire, 72 pp.Google Scholar
  12. Dare-Edwards, A.J., 1982: Clay pellets of clay dunes: Types, mineralogy, origin and effect of pedogenesis, In: Wassen, R.J. (Ed.), Quaternary Dust Mantles of China, New Zealand and Australia, Australian National University, Canberra, pp. 179–189.Google Scholar
  13. Dare-Edwards, A.J., 1984: Aeolian clay deposits of south-eastern Australia: parna or loessic clay?, Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr., M.S. 9: 337–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeGraff, J.M., and Aydin, A., 1987: Surface morphology of columnar joints and its significance to mechanics and direction of joint growth, Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull., 99: 605–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gillette, D., 1978: Tests with a portable wind tunnel for determining wind erosion threshold velocities, Atmos. Environ., 12: 2309–2313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gillette, D., 1984a: Threshold velocities for wind erosion on natural terrestrial arid surfaces (a summary), In: Pruppacher, Semonin, and Slinn (Eds.), Precipitation Scavenging, Dry Deposition, and Resuspension, Elsevier, New York, pp. 1047–1057.Google Scholar
  17. Gillette, D., 1984b: Threshold friction velocities and moduli of rupture at Owens Lake, California, In: Results of Test Plot Studies at Owens Dry Lake, Inyo County, California, Report prepared for State Lands Commission, by WESTEC Services, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  18. Gillette, D., Adams, J., Endo, A., Smith, D., and Kihl, R., 1980: Threshold velocities for input of soil particles into the air by desert soils, J. Geophys. Res., 85: 5621–5630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gillette, D., Adams, J., Muhs, D., and Kihl, R., 1982: Threshold friction velocities and rupture moduli for crusted desert soil for the input of soil particles into the air, J. Geophys. Res., 87: 9003–9015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Greeley, R., and Iversen, J.D., 1985: Wind as a Geological Process on Earth, Mars, Venus and Titan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 333 pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Greeley, R., Iversen, J.D., Pollack, J.B., and White, B.R., 1974: Wind tunnel studies of Martian aeolian processes, Proc. Roy. Soc. London A, 341: 331–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hess, S.L., 1973: Martian winds and dust clouds, Planet. Space Sci., 21: 1549–1557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huffman, G.G., and Price, W.A., 1949: Clay dune formation near Corpus Christi, Texas, J. Sed. Pet., 19: 118–127.Google Scholar
  24. Ishihara, T., and Iwagaki, Y., 1952: On the effect of sand storm in controlling the mouth of the Kiku River, Bulletin No. 2, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.Google Scholar
  25. Iversen, J.D., Pollack, J., Greeley, R., and White, B., 1976: Saltation threshold on Mars: The effect of interparticle force, surface roughness, and low atmospheric density, Icarus, 29: 381–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jackson, M.L., 1975: Soil Chemical Analysis, Originally published by Prentice-Hall, now published by the author, Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  27. Marrs, R.W., and Kolm, K.E. (Eds.), 1982: Interpretation of wind flow characteristics from eolian landforms, Geol. Soc. Amer. Spec. Paper, 192,112 pp.Google Scholar
  28. Nickling, W.G. (Ed.), 1986: Aeolian Geomorphology, Allen and Unwin, Boston, 311 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Phillips, M., 1980: A force balance model for particle entrainment in a fluid stream, J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys., 13: 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Price, W.A., 1963: Physicochemical and environmental factors in clay dune genesis, J. Sed. Pet., 33: 766–778.Google Scholar
  31. Pye, K., 1987: Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits, Academic Press, London, pp. 10–28.Google Scholar
  32. Roth, E.S., 1960: The silt-clay dunes of Clark Dry Lake, California, The Compass, 38: 18–27.Google Scholar
  33. Ryan, J.A., 1964: Notes on the Martian yellow clouds, Geophys. Res., 69: 3750–3770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sagan, C., and Pollack, J., 1969: Wind blown dust on Mars, Nature(London), 223: 791–794.Google Scholar
  35. Vershinin, P.V., 1958: The Background of Soil Structure, (Pochvennaya Struktura i Usloviya ee Formirovaniya). S.I. Dolgov (Ed.), Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, Moskva-Leningrad. (Translated from Russian, Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, 1971, 128 pp.)Google Scholar
  36. Wasson, R.J., 1983: Dune sediment types, sand colour, sediment provenance and hydrology in the Strzelecki-Smpson dunefield, Australia, In: Brookfield, M.E. and T.S. Ahlbrandt, (Eds.),Eolian Sediments and Processes, Developments in Sedimentology, 38, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 165–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wood, G.P., Weaver, W., and Henry, R., 1974: The minimum free-stream wind for initiating motion of surface material on Mars, NASA TM X-71959, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ray H. Breuninger
    • 1
  • Dale A. Gillette
    • 2
  • Rolf Kihl
    • 3
  1. 1.Carroll CollegeHelenaUSA
  2. 2.Geophysical Monitoring for Climatic ChangeAir Resources Laboratories/NOAABoulderUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Arctic and Alpine ResearchUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations