KeywordsGreat Sand Dunes National Park Colorado
Geomorphology -- Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Colo. and N.M.)
LiDAR Remote Sensing
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSand Dune Geomorphology occurs much faster than most geological processes, and is heavily influenced by the small scale weather events and current climatology. Aeolian forces can be difficult to study directly, but they directly affect areas with large amounts of free sediment not restricted by vegetation. The Great Sand Dunes National Park was upgraded from a national monument in 2000, but the dunes themselves are thought to have formed as recently as 18,000 – 400,000 years ago after a large glacial lake receded from the valley. There is even evidence that large amounts of sediment joined the main dunefield 750 years ago due to a severe and prolonged drought. With improvements in technology, it is now possible to look at the dunes with LIDAR, seeing the changes from 2014 to 2021. Using Lidar data, it may be possible to identify possible causes or variables that influenced the changes that occurred to the Great Sand Dunes over the course of 7 years. Large nearby features like the 14,000 foot (4267 meters) Sangre De Cristo Mountains with their effect on the weather, and creating ephemeral streams from snowmelt. This study tests and identifies variables to ascertain whether they influence the dunes, and may help us predict what may happen in the near future, as well as possibly the far future, and the dunes may reveal secrets about how the climate is changing as they are impacted by the climate.