Highlights 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001

White Sands Dune Migration

  • Principal Investigator:
    Dr. Ryan Ewing
  • UNAVCO Engineers: Sarah Doelger, Abe Morrison
  • Dates: March 7 – 12, 2012
  • Location: White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
  • Funding Source: NSF

Written by Sarah Doelger


UNAVCO provided support for Dr. Ryan Ewing's (University of Alabama) first TLS survey campaign to the White Sands National Monument. Scanning was carried out over the course of four days in three separate locations within the monument. Site access and project assistance were made possible by Dr. Ewing's ongoing collaborator, David Bustos, White Sand's Chief of Resource Management.


Dr. Ewing uses geospatial, remote sensing, and field data to understand sediment dynamics in modern landscapes as well as within the sedimentary rock record. His project at White Sands is multidisciplinary and is in collaboration with researchers from the University of Texas and Penn State University. Ewing is using airborne and terrestrial LiDAR, high resolution aerial photography, as well as peizometer and weather station data to study sediment transport, dune formation, aeolian stratigraphy, and recent regional climatic variations.

The primary goal of the UNAVCO supported field campaign was to capture the surface topography of a 500m E/W trending dune transect before and after a wind event to compare the changes. The transect was located in the transitional zone on the periphery of the main dune field in White Sands.


Logistics proved to be challenging. Park ATVs and personnel were necessary to transport the equipment to the field site, but were only available for two of the four days. In total, one 250 m transect was scanned at cm resolution.

The remaining two days were used to scan localized dune avalanches and the stratigraphy of ~ 2-3 ft deep interdune trenches. The third day of scanning was cut short by ongoing afternoon rainfall.

Related Links

National Park Service: White Sands National Monument, New Mexico »
Ryan Ewing's research page »


Last modified: 2020-02-03  20:49:08  America/Denver