1995, pp 101-129

Sand Transport Paths in the Mojave Desert, Southwestern United States

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Abstract

Remote sensing and field evidence are used to describe sand deposits found in associated pathways of emplacement in the eastern Mojave Desert. Two separate pathways are identified here: one extending eastward from the Bristol Playa through the Cadiz and Danby Playas and Rice Valley to the Colorado River, and a second parallel path extending eastward from Dale Playa through the Palen and Ford Playas to the Mule Mountains near the Colorado River. The preferential location of sand ramps on the west slopes of mountains along each path suggests that the eastward moving, wind-driven sand was not confined by topographic divides between separate drainage basins around the individual playas and valleys. Sediment analysis of selected samples shows that there are discreet associations of sand characteristics along the sand pathways, with an inferred similarity between the stabilized (vegetated) sands in Rice Valley, west of the Colorado River, and stabilized sand dunes on Cactus Plain and La Posa Plain in Arizona, east of the Colorado River. Sand transport along the paths appears to have been episodic, based on multiple paleosols present in several dissected sand ramps. Future testing of the sand transport path hypothesis will require additional sediment analyses, spectral studies of remote sensing data, and obtaining dates for selected soil horizons along the sand paths.