Spectral properties, iron oxide content and provenance of Namib dune sands

K White, John Walden, SD Gurney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This paper applies multispectral remote sensing techniques to map the Fe-oxide content over the entire Namib sand sea. Spectrometric analysis is applied to field samples to identify the reflectance properties of the dune sands which enable remotely sensed Fe-oxide mapping. The results indicate that the pattern of dune colour in the Namib sand sea arises from the mixing of at least two distinct sources of sand; a red component of high Fe-oxide content (present as a coating on the sand grains) which derives from the inland regions, particularly from major embayments into the Southern African escarpment; and a yellow coastal component of low Fe-oxide content which is brought into the area by northward-moving aeolian transport processes. These major provenances are separated by a mixing zone between 20 kin and 90 kin from the coast throughout the entire length of the sand sea. Previous workers have also recognised a third, fluvial, provenance, but the methodology applied here is not able to map this source as a distinct spectral component. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-229
Number of pages11
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2007


  • remote sensing
  • iron oxides
  • aeolian processes
  • Namib sand sea
  • SEA


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