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Geology of Mojave National Preserve: Kelso Dunes

Kelso Dune view The Kelso Dune complex has some of the highest dunes (600 feet,160 meters) in the region. Few people realize however, that these magnificent dunes form only a small part of a much larger sand transport system that includes the Devil's Playground.

The mystery of the missing sand source

Huge amounts of sand were needed to build these delicate wind-created sculptures, but geologists studying the Preserve discovered that new sand is not presently replenishing the dunes. Where did the sand come from? What made it stop accumulating? The Kelso Dune sands remained a mystery until recently.

A close-up look at Kelso Dune sand

From a distance Kelso's sand grains look monotonously similar, right? Take a closer look!

Dunes on the move

What makes those grains go?
View detailed map of Kelso sand system
View geologic map of area (large files!)

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