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Wind can keep mountains from growing
University of Arizona ^ | March 28, 2011 | Unknown

Posted on 03/28/2011 7:40:41 PM PDT by decimon

Wind is a much more powerful force in the evolution of mountains than previously thought, according to a new report from a University of Arizona-led research team.

Bedrock in Central Asia that would have formed mountains instead was sand-blasted into dust, said lead author Paul Kapp.

"No one had ever thought that wind could be this effective," said Kapp, a UA associate professor of geosciences. "You won't read in a textbook that wind is a major process in terms of breaking down rock material."

Rivers and glaciers are the textbook examples of forces that wear down mountains and influence their evolution.

Wind can be just as powerful, Kapp said. He and his colleagues estimate wind can be 10 to 100 times more effective in eroding mountains than previously believed.

The team's paper, "Wind erosion in the Qaidam basin, central Asia: implications for tectonics, paleoclimate, and the source of the Loess Plateau," is in the April/May issue of GSA Today.

Kapp's co-authors are Jon D. Pelletier and Joellen Russell of the UA; Alexander Rohrmann, formerly of the UA and now at the University of Potsdam in Germany; Richard Heermance of California State University, Northridge; and Lin Ding of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing. The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund and a UA Faculty Small Grant funded the research.

The geoscientists figured out wind's rock-sculpting abilities by studying gigantic wind-formed ridges of rock called yardangs.

Kapp first learned about yardangs when reviewing a scientific paper about Central Asia's Qaidam Basin. To see the geology for himself, he booted up Google Earth -- and was wowed by what he saw.

"I'd never seen anything like that before," he said. "I didn't even know what a yardang was."

Huge fields of yardangs that can be seen from space look like corduroy. Wind had scoured long gouges out of the bedrock, leaving the keel-shaped ridges behind. Kapp wondered where the missing material was.

The team's initial research was conducted using geological maps of the region and satellite images from Google Earth. Then Kapp and his team went to the Qaidam Basin to collect more information about the yardangs, the history of wind erosion and the dust.

"What we're proposing is that during the glacials, when it's colder and drier, there's severe wind erosion in the Qaidam basin and the dust gets blown out and deposited downwind in the Loess Plateau," Kapp said.

The term "loess" refers to deposits of wind-blown silt. Parts of the U.S. Midwest have large deposits of loess.

"Up until 3 million years ago, the basin was filling up with sediment," he said. "Then like a switch, the wind turned on and basin sediments get sandblasted away."

Known as the "bread basket of China," the Loess Plateau is the largest accumulation of dust on Earth. Scientists thought most of the dust came from the Gobi Desert.

In contrast, Kapp and his colleagues suggest more than half of the dust came from the Qaidam Basin. Co-author Pelletier, a UA geomorphologist, created a computer model indicating that dust from the basin could have formed the plateau.

The wind is not having such effects now because the climate is different, Kapp said. Co-author Russell plus other research groups suggest the westerly winds shift north during interglacial periods like that of the current climate and shift toward the equator during glacial periods.

Therefore since the last Ice Age ended about 11,000 years ago, the winds have blown from the Gobi Desert toward the Loess Plateau. During glacial periods, the winds blew from the Qaidam basin toward the Loess Plateau instead.

"During the interglacials, the basin fills up with lakes. … When it goes back to a glacial period, lake sediments blow away," he said. "Our hypothesis is that you have lake development, then wind erosion, lake development, wind erosion, lake development – and so on."

The team suggests wind erosion also influenced how fast the basin's bedrock is folded. In Central Asia, bedrock folds and crumples because it's being squeezed as the Indian plate collides with the Asian plate.

"The folding accelerated 3 million years ago," Kapp said. "That's when the wind erosion turned on. I don't think it's a coincidence."

During the glacial periods, the winds whisked sediment out of the basin. As a result, the bedrock deformed faster because it was no longer weighed down by all the sediment.

Kapp calls the process "wind-enhanced tectonics." The term "tectonics" refers to forces that cause movements and deformation of the Earth's plates.

The whole process is driven by global climate change, he said. "The unifying theme is wind."

Kapp and his team are quantifying the processes further as they analyze more samples they brought back from the Qaidam basin and Loess Plateau.

###

Researcher contact: Paul Kapp 520-626-8763 pkapp@email.arizona.edu

Related Web sites:

Paul Kapp http://www.geo.arizona.edu/~pkapp/

GSA Today http://www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/


TOPICS: History; Science
KEYWORDS: catastrophism; chandlerswobble; chandlerwobble; geology; godsgravesglyphs; loess; poleshift; regddiculous

Caption: This map shows Central Asia's Qaidam Basin, Gobi Desert and Loess Plateau. A research team led by University of Arizona geoscientist Paul Kapp suggests that during glacial times, winds blew dust from the Qaidam Basin to the Loess Plateau and deposited more than half of the dust currently in the Loess Plateau. During interglacial times such as the present, the westerly winds shift north and blow dust from the Gobi Desert to the Loess Plateau.

Credit: Paul Kapp, University of Arizona.

Usage Restrictions: This photo may be used only to illustrate a story about the research described in the accompanying release, Wind Can Keep Mountains from Growing. The photo credit must be included with the image.

1 posted on 03/28/2011 7:40:44 PM PDT by decimon
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To: SunkenCiv

Winding down ping.


2 posted on 03/28/2011 7:41:23 PM PDT by decimon
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To: decimon
Major location of loess hills in America are in Northwest Iowa.
3 posted on 03/28/2011 7:44:27 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: decimon
PFFFFFFT it was climate change caused by the smoke from mongol campfires......
4 posted on 03/28/2011 7:46:37 PM PDT by flat
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To: decimon


5 posted on 03/28/2011 7:48:36 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Visualize)
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To: flat

“He and his colleagues estimate wind can be 10 to 100 times more “

I estimate it to be 10 to 10,000 times.


6 posted on 03/28/2011 7:49:11 PM PDT by mewykwistmas
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To: mewykwistmas

In the ‘olden’ days , we used to call this ‘sandblasting’.

Odd how such areas as the one in the article (and some others I can think of) are so near a desert.


7 posted on 03/28/2011 8:00:40 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post.)
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To: decimon

Really interesting. I went on Google Earth and will go back but the article does seem to relate to some of what you see.


8 posted on 03/28/2011 8:01:33 PM PDT by JimSEA
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To: hinckley buzzard

Illinois is covered with the stuff. It has some neat properties in that you can make a vertical cut through it and it doesn’t slump down as sand would.


9 posted on 03/28/2011 8:03:20 PM PDT by piasa
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To: JoeProBono

Source

10 posted on 03/28/2011 8:07:36 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post.)
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To: JoeProBono

What that picture brings to mind is that, long ago, where that man is standing would have been several hundred feet under the BOTTOM of the Ocean.


11 posted on 03/28/2011 8:13:18 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post.)
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To: decimon
"No one had ever thought that wind could be this effective," said Kapp, a UA associate professor of geosciences. "You won't read in a textbook that wind is a major process in terms of breaking down rock material."

That's odd. I learned as a child that wind erosion was a major factor in shaping rocks and land topography.

12 posted on 03/28/2011 8:28:16 PM PDT by BBell
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To: decimon

I believe it. Came off a ski lift on the top of the mountain at Tahoe a few weeks ago and felt like my face was being sandblasted. Got down the hill fast as I could. I can only imagine what a million years of that could do to solid rock.


13 posted on 03/28/2011 8:54:34 PM PDT by RatRipper (I'll ride a turtle to work every day before I buy anything from Government Motors.)
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To: RatRipper
From a movie, and thus my memory:

"How long is eternity? Imagine the tallest mountains known, made of the hardest rock.

Now imagine a scarf of the finest silk brushing against those mountains every day.

When those mountains have been reduced to dust by that scarf, that is the beginning of eternity."

14 posted on 03/29/2011 5:46:17 AM PDT by I Buried My Guns (Novare Res!)
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To: decimon; 75thOVI; agrace; aimhigh; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; aragorn; aristotleman; ...

Thanks decimon.

I immediately thought of one of Doctor Evil's lines. Ends with "ridiculous". This also reminds me of the remarkably stupid claim that the sub-3 million year old beech tree fossils on Antarctica were carried there by the winds. Or for that matter, Aristotle moronicaly claiming that rocks don't fall from the sky, that meteorites that the hicks and hillbillies of ancient Greece witnessed falling from the sky had been carried by the winds from elsewhere. And of course, this:
Earth throws a wobbly
Tuesday, 18 July, 2000
web archive version
The Chandler Wobble, a mysterious wobble that shakes the Earth as it spins on its axis, was first detected in 1891 by an American astronomer called Seth Carlo Chandler. The force of the wobble is such that it is capable of moving the North Pole about six metres (20 feet) from where it should be and lasts around 433 days, or just 1.2 years. Scientists originally calculated that this phenomenon should naturally run out of steam after 68 years unless some force keeps activating it. And this is precisely what appears to happen. NASA's Richard Gross says the principle causes of the wobble are fluctuating pressures on the bottom of the oceans, the result of changes in temperature, salinity and wind patterns. Dr Michael Tsimplis, from the Southampton Oceanography Centre, UK, says that the Gross theory is plausible. "Any stress you apply to the surface of the Earth can affect its axis," he said.
But not a close encounter with another celestial body, nope, never.
 
Catastrophism
 
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15 posted on 03/29/2011 7:18:00 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Thanks Cincinna for this link -- http://www.friendsofitamar.org)
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To: SunkenCiv
...Aristotle moronicaly claiming that rocks don't fall from the sky...

That was Aristotle Onassis telling Jackie she couldn't have another diamond.

16 posted on 03/29/2011 7:25:20 PM PDT by decimon
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

· GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach ·
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Thanks decimon.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
 

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17 posted on 03/29/2011 7:28:03 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Thanks Cincinna for this link -- http://www.friendsofitamar.org)
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To: BBell
That's odd. I learned as a child that wind erosion was a major factor in shaping rocks and land topography.

I guess my 1950s college geology professors were far ahead of their time. I learned about the tremendous erosional power of wind back then, in the "olden days."

18 posted on 03/29/2011 7:38:34 PM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: Bernard Marx
......I learned about the tremendous erosional power of wind back then, in the "olden days."

Ditto.
I learned about wind erosion in general science class back in the day.......
Also by hearing stories about the "dust bowl" from my parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts and other "older" folk.

I reckon people back in the 30' - 40's were far ahead of their time.

19 posted on 03/29/2011 8:15:36 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: decimon

so answer this smart guy:

how come my butt isnt smaller?


20 posted on 03/29/2011 9:45:33 PM PDT by beebuster2000
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To: beebuster2000

Yer not ‘angin’ it oot in the breeze enough, m’dear.


21 posted on 03/29/2011 9:57:50 PM PDT by null and void (We are now in day 796 of our national holiday from reality. - It's 3 AM, where is the 'president'?)
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To: decimon
No kidding.

Guess the direction of the ocean currents here...


View Larger Map

22 posted on 03/29/2011 10:09:59 PM PDT by null and void (We are now in day 796 of our national holiday from reality. - It's 3 AM, where is the 'president'?)
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To: decimon
The Himalayans are losing thousands of tons of rock and debris every year, slowly wearing it down, due to wind and erosion. But the same goes with other mountain ranges and the Grand Canyon, as well. (I watch every episode of "How The Earth Was Made" on History Channel.)
23 posted on 03/30/2011 1:08:55 PM PDT by submarinerswife (Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results~Einstein)
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Thanks Fred Nerks for this link:
24 posted on 04/02/2011 6:36:11 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Thanks Cincinna for this link -- http://www.friendsofitamar.org)
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