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Vermeesch, P., Fenton, C.R., Kober, F., Wiggs, G.F.S., Bristow, C.S. and Xu, S. 2010. Sand residence times of one million years in the Namib Sand Sea from cosmogenic nuclides. Nature Geoscience, DOI:10.1038/NGEO985


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Sand residence times of one million years in the Namib Sand Sea from cosmogenic nuclides.

Summary / Notes:

The Namib Sand Sea is one of the world's oldest and largest sand deserts , yet little is known about the source of the sand in this, or other large deserts. In particular, it is unclear whether the sand is derived from local sediment or comes from remote sources. The relatively uniform appearance of dune sands and low compositional variability within dune fields make it difficult to address this question. Here we combine cosmogenic-nuclide measurements and geochronological techniques to assess the provenance and migration history of sand grains in the Namib Sand Sea. We use U–Pb geochronology of detrital zircons to show that the primary source of sand is the Orange River at the southern edge of the Namib desert. Our burial ages obtained from measurements of the cosmogenic nuclides 10Be, 26Al and 21Ne suggest that the residence time of sand within the sand sea is at least one million years. We therefore conclude that, despite large climatic changes in the Namib region associated with Quaternary glacial–interglacial cycles4,5, the area currently occupied by the Namib Sand Sea has never been entirely devoid of sand during the past million years.

Year: 2010

Type: Report

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Vermeesch, P., Fenton, C.R., Kober, F., Wiggs, G.F.S., Bristow, C.S. and Xu, S. 2010. Sand residence times of one million years in the Namib Sand Sea from cosmogenic nuclides. Nature Geoscience, DOI:10.1038/NGEO985
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