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An Integrated Approach to Dune System Analysis

Abstract

In this paper we discuss an integrated approach to dune system analysis. Focussing on a particular study from amongst the dunes of the northern Wahiba Sand Sea, Sultanate of Oman, we present work to date on this multi-disciplinary study. Nested multi-frequency ground penetrating radar (GPR) profiles and volumes have been acquired in conjunction with dGPS and UAV-derived Digital Elevation Models (DEM) to provide accurate static correction. Localised electrical profiles reveal near-surface moisture content, relative dielectric impedence, conductivity and magnetic susceptibility. Sampling has been carried out for ESEM analysis, OSL dating and CT scanning. Through this integrated approach we discuss how current techniques are building on historical studies of Aeolian systems. Aerial and satellite imaging are analysed together with radar cross sections at a range of scales to reveal regional variability in duneform preservation. Localised three-dimensional volumes of architecture elements have been created. Subsequent multi-scale modelling is discussed, from pore-network analysis using 3D tomographic imaging to assess fluid percolation at the pore scale, to genetic-unit sized architectural mapping to assess the impact of primary strata types. Limitations of available techniques are discussed before looking to the future to see what new enabling technologies are around the corner.