Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: barchan from The Macquarie Dictionary

a crescent-shaped sand dune with the horns pointing downwind, the profile being asymmetric with the gentler slope on the convex side, and the steeper slope on the concave or leeward side.

Plural: barchans

Etymology: Russian barkhán, ? from a Turkic language

barchanoid adjective

Summary Article: barchan
From The Dictionary of Physical Geography

A crescent-shaped sand dune, in which the horns point downwind in the direction of dune migration. Barchans are a type of transverse dune that tends to form where either sand transport rates are high and/or sand supply is limited; thus, they frequently occur on the margins of sand seas and migrate over nonsandy surfaces. Barchan dunes are not necessarily a very common type of dune, but the frequent simplicity of form has made them the source of investigations into aeolian sand transport on dune forms. (See dune.)

  • Hastenrath, S. (1987)The barchan sand dunes of south Peru revisited. Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie, Neue Folge, 31, 167-178.
  • Moosavi, V.; Moradi, H.; Shamsi, S.R.F.; Shirmohammadi, B. (2014)Assessment of the planimetric morphology of barchan dunes. Catena, 120, 12-19.
  • David S G Thomas
    University of Oxford
    Copyright © 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Related Articles

    Full text Article barchan
    Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology

    A gently sloping, moving sand dune having a crescent shape with horns pointing downwind and lying transverse to the direction of the...

    Full text Article barchan
    Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

    pronunciation (1888) : a moving crescent-shaped sand dune

    Full text Article draa
    The Dictionary of Physical Geography

    A large-scale accumulation of aeolian sand dunes geographically distinct from other sand fields but smaller than a sand sea.

    See more from Credo