Scientists have solved the mystery of an ancient walking sand dune in Morocco

Scientists have solved the mystery of an ancient walking sand dune in Morocco

Source: Pexels
One of the most mysterious dunes of the Erg Chebbi desert area in southeastern Morocco, Lala Lallia (translated from Berber means "the highest sacred point") rises 100 meters above the ground and stretches 700 meters wide. From the ground, it has the shape of a pyramid, and from above it resembles a star with rays radiating in different directions. Because of the appearance formed by the intersecting streams of winds, Lala Lalliya was named the star dune.

Using a luminescent analysis method that allows us to study the natural glow of quartz minerals in the sand and determine when they were last exposed to sunlight, geologists have established that the base of the dune began to form 13 thousand years ago. About 9,000 years ago, the growth stopped, the dune remained unchanged for almost 8 thousand years, and now a little more than 900 years ago it began to grow again. According to experts, before the change in climatic conditions in that area, the dune had significantly higher humidity, as evidenced by the analysis of the sand layer at the base of the dune. The remains of plant roots were also found there, which played the role of stabilizing the whole natural structure of the factor.

Steady winds from the southwest and northeast contribute to the accumulation of sand, and the wind blowing from the east slowly shifts the dune at a rate of half a meter per year. Thus, in the last two hundred years alone, Lala Lalliya has moved 100 meters to the west, the journal Scientific Reports reports.

Star dunes are a prominent feature of vast desert landscapes. They are common in sandy deserts around the world and have also been recorded on Mars and Saturn's moon Titan. Data on the behavior of dunes is important in the planning of infrastructure facilities, including road construction and pipeline laying.
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