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Singing Sands
 

 

 

 

Singing Sands, Gobi Desert
Mongolia
 
Earth's Natural Wonders in Asia
 
Length of Singing Sands: 120 miles (193 km)
Maximum height of dunes: 2,500 feet (800 m)
Sunset on the Dunes

 


Singing sand, whistling sand or barking sand is sand that produces sounds of either high or low frequency under pressure. The sound emission is usually triggered by wind passing over dunes or by walking on the sand. The sound is generated by shear stress.

Certain conditions have to come together to create singing sand:

The sand grains have to be round and between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in diameter
The sand has to contain silica
The sand needs to be a certain humidity
The most common frequency emitted seems to be close to 450 Hz.

Importantly, there are still scientific controversies on the details of the singing sand mechanism (see references). It has been proposed that the sound frequency is controlled by the shear rate. Others have suggested that the frequency of vibration is related to the thickness of the dry surface layer of sand. The sound waves bounce back and forth between the surface of the dune and the surface of the moist layer creating a resonance that increases the sound's volume.Other sounds that can be emitted by sand have been described as "roaring" or "booming".

The particular note produced by the dune, between 60 and 105 Hertz, is controlled by the rate of collision in the shear band separating the avalanche from the static part of the dune. For spontaneous avalanches, the frequency is controlled by gravity and by the size of the sand grains.[1]

Singing Sands-Gobi Desert
 
 
The name for the region in Mongolia is Hongory Els, meaning "Singing Sands." It refers to noise made by sand grains as they pass over each other when wind moves them across the surface of the dunes. Unlike most sand particles, which are coarse and irregular, the particles of the Singing Sands are round and smooth. In dry weather conditions, these particles of sand rub against each other, creating an eerie musical sound.

The dunes extend for some 115 miles across the southern Gobi Desert between Mount Sevrei and Mount Zuulun (part of the Altali Range). One of at least 30 singing sand sites in the world, they are sensitive to pollution, which can micro-coat sand grains and kill the sonic effect.
 

 

The arid steppes in this low-oblique, generally north-looking photograph is a transition zone between China (People’s Republic of China) to the south and the independent buffer state of Mongolia to the north. The photograph shows part of the Huang He (Yellow River) as it flows north and then east through the Ordos Desert
The climate of this margin of the Gobi Desert is characterized by chronic droughts, hot summers, and bitterly cold winters. The only true settlements are found along the floodplains of the Huang He where sufficient quantities of water are available for intensive irrigated farming. Two distinct agricultural areas are visible in the photograph—a highly cultivated area between the Helan Mountains (a small, north-south-oriented range near the southern boundary of the photograph) and the Huang He and another farther north where the Huang He bends east.
The city of Baotou is located east of this second area, along the northern shore of the Huang He. Several highly reflective dry salt lakes are scattered east and west of the river. The sizable towns of Yinchuan and Xincheng are barely recognizable in the cultivated fields east of the Helan Mountain along the southern edge of the photograph.[3]
   

The name for the region in Mongolia is Hongory Els, meaning "Singing Sands." It refers to noise made by sand grains as they pass over each other when wind moves them across the surface of the dunes. Unlike most sand particles, which are coarse and irregular, the particles of the Singing Sands are round and smooth. In dry weather conditions, these particles of sand rub against each other, creating an eerie musical sound.

The dunes extend for some 115 miles across the southern Gobi Desert between Mount Sevrei and Mount Zuulun (part of the Altali Range). One of at least 30 singing sand sites in the world, they are sensitive to pollution, which can micro-coat sand grains and kill the sonic effect.

The area is also famous for its oases and abundant wildlife, which includes wild sheep, ibex, and gazelles, together with their predators, leopards and dhloe (wild dog), as well as an abundance of birds. The most popular oasis is 150 miles from the fossil site at the famous Flaming Cliffs [4]

 

You tube video-Singing Sands

 

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References
 
1.Wikipedia-Singing Sand -retrieved 6/18/2009
2.Travel Blog-The Gobi Desert-retrieved 6/18/2009
3.NASA-Credit to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Science@NASA .-retrieved 6/18/2009
4.1,001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die 2005- Michael Bright-retrieved 6/18/2009
 
Wikipedia  text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

 

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