SAND DUNES IN NEW YORK STATE
Dunes are landforms comprising of large mounds of well sorted fine to medium-grained sediment (often sand) deposited by Aeolian processes (to find out more about Aeolian processes see link to USGS website below). Dunes start in one location and often migrate to different locations until sand becomes anchored by ground vegetation such as grasses or trapped on the windward side of obstacles such as rocks, trees, and shrubs. Some form in areas of little or no vegetation or obstacles and are held in place by the sheer volume of sand available.
Gradually a sand dune will build in a direction dictated by the wind. For example, if the most prevalent winds in an area are from the Northwest, then the dunes will migrate in a southeasterly direction. The grains will accumulate and build into the lee (downwind) side of the obstacle. As the amount of sand increases, the grains will begin to slide down the lee surface of the dune. This lee surface is called, naturally, the slip face.
When most people think of sand dunes they picture the desert scenes from countless movies. Large hills of sand as far as the eye can see with no vegetation, water or civilization in site. The truth is that there are sand dunes right here in New York State. They can be found in and around the Albany area (Hudson and Mohawk Valleys), on Long Island, Central New York and northern New York.
In almost every location, dunes have been modified and/or flattened to make way for ever expanding development. Finding an undisturbed sand dune site in New York State is becoming more difficult as time goes by. Fortunately, promising sites have been located and are currently being investigated.