Coral Pink Dunes

November 09, 2006

Coralpinkdunes

Provided and copyright by: Sue Strickland
Summary authors & editors: Sue Strickland

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, near Kenab, Utah, represents the only major sand dune field on the Colorado Plateau. These dunes are created from the erosion of Navajo Sandstone, which dates back to the Middle Jurassic Period. The coral pink color comes from iron oxides and other minerals. Sand dunes found here result from the abundance of sand and exposed sandstone, persistent winds, and a funneling effect upon the winds.

Winds that blow between Moquith Mountain and Moccasin Mountain are funneled through a notch, thereby increasing the wind velocity to a point where it can carry sand grains from the eroding Navajo sandstone. This phenomenon is known as the Venturi effect. Once the wind passes through the notch and into the open valley, the wind velocity decreases, and the sand is then deposited, forming the impressive dunes. These colorful sand dunes are estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old.

The background of the photo has been darkened to provide better contrast, but the dunes actually do take on this coral color in the late afternoon sunlight.

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