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Factors affecting the nature and rate of dust production from natural dune sands

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Abstract

This paper evaluates the influence of natural sand particle characteristics on the amount and particle-size distributions of dust produced by aeolian abrasion. It contrasts with previous studies of aeolian abrasion by conducting experiments using: (i) whole sand samples, as opposed to selected size fractions; (ii) natural, mature dune sands, rather than artificial or freshly crushed material; and (iii) weathered sands that have acquired a superficial clay coating, instead of grains with clean surfaces. Whilst previous research has found clear, positive relationships between particle size, sorting, roundness and the amount of dust produced by aeolian abrasion, the relationships determined in this study show some variation according to the geomorphological context from which the original samples were obtained. The most important factor affecting the amount and particle-size characteristics of the dust produced was the presence of a clay coating on the grain surface that is removed by the abrasion process. The dust produced by this mechanism had a modal size of 2–5 μm and material <10 μm comprised up to 90% of the particles produced.

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