Study reveals sand dunes can sing and even 'burp'

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Some Sand Dunes Sing And Have Musical Booms

Some sand dunes are known to make noises that resemble musical tones.

Now, a recently published study describes why and how these noises are made.

Using instruments called geophones which pick up on subterranean vibrations, researchers have found that "waves travelling through the dune move individual grains of sand."

One sound which they call "burping" is caused by non-linear waves near the surface, and the other sound called "booming" is the result of linear waves in the dune's interior.

The phenomenon is made possible due to sand's ability to act in two distinct manners. While grains of sand are certainly solid, together they can behave like a liquid and while doing so aid in the amplification of vibrations occurring during avalanches.

Another discovery was that researchers could activate a dune's natural internal resonance, which they did by striking a hammer against a plate.

The team conducted their field research over 25 days at dunes in Death Valley National Park and the Mojave Desert.

They believe their findings can help to inform future measurements of these sandy structures or during other seismic surveys.

Also see the top beaches of 2015:
Dr. Beach's list of best beaches for 2015
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Study reveals sand dunes can sing and even 'burp'
In this May 19, 2015 photo, Ali Junell, of Portland, Ore., left, and Kristen Carmichael, of Los Angeles, sit on the beach at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park in Waimanalo, Hawaii. The beach was listed as No. 1 on the 2015 list of best beaches, a list compiled annually by Florida International University Professor Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

Barefoot Beach, Bonita Springs, Gulf Coast, Florida, USA

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Beach at St. George Island State Park


Hana, Maui, Hawaii, United States, North America

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Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina

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Key Biscayne Florida USA Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park lighthouse.

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Paddle board surfer heads out to catch a wave at Coast Guard Beach. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Kiawah Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, SC.

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Some beachgoers relax in the shade while others go for a run at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in Naples, FL. Travel photos for package on Naple, FL. (Credit Image: © J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post/

East Beach, Santa Barbara, California USA.

(Blaine Harrington III/Alamy)


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