Megaripple mechanics: bimodal transport ingrained in bimodal sands

Katharina Tholen, Thomas Pähtz, Hezi Yizhaq, Itzhak Katra, Klaus Kroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aeolian sand transport is a major process shaping landscapes on Earth and on diverse celestial bodies. Conditions favoring bimodal sand transport, with fine-grain saltation driving coarse-grain reptation, give rise to the evolution of megaripples with a characteristic bimodal sand composition. Here, we derive a unified phase diagram for this special aeolian process and the ensuing nonequilibrium megaripple morphodynamics by means of a conceptually simple quantitative model, grounded in the grain-scale physics. We establish a well-preserved quantitative signature of bimodal aeolian transport in the otherwise highly variable grain size distributions, namely, the log-scale width (Krumbein phi scale) of their coarse-grain peaks. A comprehensive collection of terrestrial and extraterrestrial data, covering a wide range of geographical sources and environmental conditions, supports the accuracy and robustness of this unexpected theoretical finding. It could help to resolve ambiguities in the classification of terrestrial and extraterrestrial sedimentary bedforms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number162
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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