Aeolian granule ripple deposits, Namibia



Granule ripples are a common feature of most dunefields, yet they have seldom been recognized in ancient deposits. Although granule ripples are common in erosional settings, such as windward slopes of dunes, or scour surfaces in interdunes, they nevertheless migrate laterally and leave distinctive deposits that can be recognized in ancient rocks. These deposits have characteristics of ‘type B’sand sheet deposits, including: ‘poured-in’texture; curving ripple trough; tangential, coarse-grained foresets; irregular silty layers; well-sorted coarse and fine layers (either horizontal or within foresets); and fine layers in ripple troughs. Wind tunnel experiments suggest that under low-velocity wind conditions, granule ripples grow to a significant degree as parasites dependent on saltation of fine sand grains whose impact moves the larger grains of the granule ripple. Although the depositional surface of granule ripples is commonly coated with a layer of coarse grains, this is in most places only a few grains thick. Underlying deposits commonly have a poorly sorted, or ‘poured-in’texture. This texture results from an admixture of fine grains that fall among the spaces between the larger grains during deposition.