Make sand sing

Make sand sing

I went hiking this weekend with a group of 10 other Techers to Kelso Dunes.These dunes are known for “singing sand”. It’s part of the Mojave Desert about 3 hours drive from Caltech. Hiking uphill was quite the workout, especially with our backpacks.

There’s a lot of science behind the sand dunes. For example, there are various physics theories about why the sand dunes “whistle”.Caltech’s Professor Melany Hunt studied these sounds using radar. I learned a lot throughout this trip. One of the Techers who came told me that the dunes “farted” in the tone of G. Someone else also mentioned that the dark patterns on the sand is caused by iron. The wavy patterns are caused by wind blowing over the sand, and sometimes they lithify and form layers of different wiggly patterns. I also learned that these dunes are moving leeward, which means that the wind is hitting the sand from above.

The sand was really comfortable;it was sofine and soft. I got the chance to roll off the sides of the sandy dunes as well as slide down them backwards. Jumping off the sides of the dunes results in a painless drop and I got to hear the sand sing, except it was more of asilly farting noisethan the word “sing” suggests.

We packed a lot of water, snacks as well as blankets.

Thanks to Caltech’s photography club, we got to borrow several really nice cameras for the trip.

We navigated in the dark, relying on headlamps and phone flashlights. Once we got to the top of the dunes, we waited for sunrise. It was really nice because we had the whole expanse of sand to ourselves.

I got sand everywhere: between my molars (mmm crunchy), in my socks, in my eyes… My legs and back were also super sore the next day, but it was #worth.