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Aeolian sorting and transport processes and related effects on dune ecology

  • 1 July, 2020
  • VU University Amsterdam, Earth and Climate
  • Ronald van Balen
  • Maarten PrinsJan-Berend Stuut

In this research, we will look at aeolian sorting and transport processes and possible related effects on coastal dune ecology. Aeolian sand consists of different kinds of minerals with diverse size, shape and density. Due to these characteristics, some grains, which are in general smaller, but containing also larger, more elongated grains, are transported further downwind from the source compared to bigger and more rounded grains. This effect results in mineral sorting patterns in the dune area. Associated with the different chemical compositions of minerals, plant nutrient availability is possibly dependent on the composition of sand that is deposited. To increase our understanding of sediment sorting and related ecological effects the following research objectives are studied: 1) investigate aeolian sorting on the basis of particle size, shape and density; 2) relate spatial trends and temporal changes in aeolian sediment composition to the sediment characteristics and environmental / meteorological conditions; 3) relate these observed spatial (and temporal) sediment dispersal patterns to possible effects on dune ecology, e.g. soil pH and chemical weathering of minerals. To achieve these objectives short and long-term field-campaigns will be conducted in the research area, the National park Zuid Kennemerland, the Netherlands. Collected sediment and (already available) sand trap sediment will be analysed in the laboratory using analytical techniques as dynamic image analysis, thermogravimetric analysis and x-ray fluorescence analysis.

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Unze van Buuren

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