Wind Carvings

The sastrugi photo in my “Antarctica” post inspired me to search for other landforms shaped by the wind. Wind erosion, wind transport, and wind deposition are called Aeolian processes, and the landforms created by these processes are called Aeolian features. Most Aeolian features form in dry, arid areas with little plant growth and a lot of wind.

Sand dunes and sandstorms are well-known Aeolian features, but here are examples of some unusual ones.


Alcoves are depressions hollowed out of the side of a cliff. While some alcoves are formed by water erosion, others are formed by wind action, such as this sandstone alcove near Moab, Utah.


By Qfl247


Photo Description:

An alcove in Navajo Sandstone near Moab, Utah.

Date: 17:11, 21 May 2010 (UTC)


Ventifacts result from abrasion caused by wind blowing sand or ice crystals against rocks. Some of these rocks are polished and ground down into mushroom shapes, which has caused them to be called “mushroom rocks.”

Arbol de Piedra.jpg

By El Guanche


Photo Description:

Árbol de Piedra (“stone tree”), an unusual rock formation carved by wind-blown sand, in Bolivia’s Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. It is about 7 metres high.

Date: 8 April 2009, 14:33:06


By Qfl247


Photo Description:

Hoodoo within the Chinle Formation, west of Moab, Utah, along the Chicken Corners off-road trail. Ridge in background is the Wingate Sandstone.

Date: 23 October 2010

Kelchstein im Zittauer Gebirge, Sachsen, Deutschland – 20060621.jpg

By Zp at cs.wikipedia.,_Sachsen,_Deutschland_-_20060621.jpg


Photo Description:

The Chalice Stone in the Zittau Mountains, Saxony, Germany.

Date: 21 June 2006, 12:22 (according to EXIF data)

Timna 5.JPG

By Little Savage


Photo Description:

Timna Park, Negev, Israel

Date: 15 February 2007

Weisse Wüste.jpg

By Christine Schultz (= Hathor13;


Photo Description:

Limestone rock formation in the White Desert, western Egypt.

Date: 29 December 2003


According to Wikipedia, a yardang is “a streamlined hill carved from bedrock or any consolidated or semiconsolidated material by the dual action of wind abrasion, dust and sand, and deflation” (the removal of loose, fine-grained particles). Because yardangs range in size from several kilometers long and hundreds of meters high to a few centimeters high, they are divided into three categories: mega-yardangs, meso-yardangs, and micro-yardangs. Yardangs are found across the world, including the Tibetsi Mountains in central Sahara, China, and Arizona.

Yardangs in the Tsaidam Desert.jpg

By John Hill


Photo Description:

 I took this photo on a recent trip across the Tsaidam Desert in Qinghai Province, China.

Date: 21 June 2011


By Steven G. Fryberger


Photo Description:

Yardang, White Sands National Monument, Photo by Steven G. Fryberger.

Window rock AZ.jpg

By Ben FrantzDale


Photo Description:

The namesake of Window Rock, Arizona

Date: 19 August 2006



“Geologic Monitoring: Aeolian Resources” – National Park Service
“Aeolian Processes” – Wikipedia
“Alcove” – Wikipedia
“Geology — Mesa Verde National Park” – National Park Service
“Mushroom Rock” – Wikipedia
“Ventifact” – Wikipedia
“Window Rock, Arizona” – Wikipedia
“Yardang” – Wikipedia


7 thoughts on “Wind Carvings

    1. I enjoyed looking at the sand dune wind carvings in your post. The first and last photos are my favorite ones in the series. I used to visit the beach when I lived in Florida, and your photos brought back some happy memories. Thanks for sharing them. 🙂


  1. Pingback: Gregory Smith

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