OneGeology Kids banner To be the provider of geoscience data globally Navigation
Main content
Bottom links

OneGeology Kids

Sandless deserts

Would it surprise you to learn that there are deserts with hardly any sand?

Wind blown sand and dust can polish rocks until they are smooth and shiny. Over time a rind (like on a big cheese) builds up on the surface of the rocks. This is called desert varnish.

A weathering rind, called desert varnish, has built up on these rocks, Mauritania.

Wind carries away smaller particles like sand and dust. Rocks Larry and pebbles that are too heavy for the wind to pick up get left behind. Eventually a layer of rocks is concentrated on the ground surface. The layer of rocks is called a desert pavement, gibber plain or hamada.

All the sand has been blown away leaving heavy rocks behind. Desert gravel pavement, Mauritiana

Wind blown sand wears rocks away until they develop flat surfaces. A different surface forms for each direction that the wind blows. These rocks are called ventifact.

Ventifact diagram
Click to view larger and see the legend.

  1. Sand grains
  2. Wind
  3. Abraded surface
  4. Ventifact

Ventifact rocks, found in the Argentinean desert.


« Back Gordon glacier