Winds and Deserts


Terms to learn:

desert                  exotic stream      playa               deflation
abrasion             alluvial fan            star                   barchan
transverse        longitudinal          parabolic      desert pavement


Topic outline:

  1. Distribution of deserts
  2. Characteristic of deserts
    1. Internal drainage
      1. exotic streams
      2. playas
    2. Weathering
  3. Aeolian (wind) processes
    1. Erosion
      1. deflation
      2. abrasion
    2. Transportation
    3. Deposition
      1. sand dunes - shape
  4. Desert landscapes
    1. Basin and Range
      1. alluvial fan
      2. playa
      3. bajada
    2. Mesa and Scarp
      1. plateau, mesa, butte, pinnacle


Interesting places to visit:

Good general info:


More general info:


Virtual field trip:


When you are finished with this topic, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the methods by which wind erodes material?
  2. How do sand dunes migrate?
  3. How is desert pavement formed?
  4. What factors contribute to the shape and arrangement of sand dunes?
  5. What are some of the features that you would likely find in a Basin and Range desert landscape?  in a Mesa and Scarp landscape?