Dunes Interrupted. Death Valley National Park, California. March 30, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A curving diagonal of rock across sand dunes, Death Valley National Park
The sand dunes of Death Valley are more complex things than they might appear to be. For example, I have read that beneath their surface they actually hold quite a bit of moisture — quite a contradiction to our intuition about their dryness. (That intuition is based on fact — they can be hot and dry places, and the surface layer of the dunes is quite dry.) At the right times of day and of season they can be cool places, and they support plant and animal life.
These dunes also appear to stand on top of quite un-dune-like features. Around their edges you can find hints. You cross flat playa surface to get to them, and this surface holds abundant evidence of the work of water. In places you can even find areas that mimic perfectly the surfaces of contemporary playas, with their sedimentary formations covered with cracks. Here the edge of what must be a rather old example of this cuts diagonally across the landscape and still manages to poke its edge through the sand.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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