Singing-sand avalanches without dunes
Article first published online: 26 OCT 2012
©2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 39, Issue 20, 28 October 2012
How to Cite
2012), Singing-sand avalanches without dunes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L20310, doi:10.1029/2012GL052540., , and (
- Issue published online: 26 OCT 2012
- Article first published online: 26 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 7 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 13 JUN 2012
 Singing-sand dunes have attracted curiosity for centuries and are now the subject of controversy. We address here two aspects of this controversy: first the possible link between the frequency heard and the shear rate (for a gravity avalanche on a dune slip-face, scaling as , with d the ‘mean’ grain diameter), and second, the assumed necessity of a layered dune structure under the avalanche that acts as a resonator. Field recordings of singing dunes over the world reveal that they can present very different spectral characteristics: a dune with polydisperse grains produces a very broad and noisy spectrum, while a dune with sorted grains produces a well-defined frequency. Performing laboratory avalanches on a hard plate with singing-dune sand shows that there is no need for a dune below the sand avalanche to produce the singing sound, anda fortiorineither for the dune's layered structure nor for its particular sound transmission. By sieving the polydisperse grains, the same well-defined frequency is obtained to that of the dune with sorted grains, with the same diameter-frequency relation. The various frequencies heard in the field avalanches match the shear rates not calculated from the average size, but from the various peaks of the grain size distributions.