Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp 2172–2181 | Cite as

Dune dynamics in the southern edge of Dunhuang Oasis and implications for the oasis protection

  • Zhi-shan An
  • Ke-cun ZhangEmail author
  • Li-hai Tan
  • Hu Zhang
  • Bai-cheng Niu


The survival of Dunhuang Oasis is largely determined by the evolution of sand dunes in the southern edge of the oasis, mainly composed of shield dunes and mega pyramid dunes, which occupy two-thirds and one-third of the area, respectively. However, few studies have focused on dynamics of these dunes, especially in terms of quantification. So the theoretical basis of sand-control engineering is relatively limited. Here we present the characteristics of dune dynamics of a shield dune and mega pyramid dune in the southern edge of Dunhuang Oasis during April 2014–April 2016 based on measurement data of a 3-D laser scanner. Results indicate that the volume of the shield dune decreased during the monitoring period of two years, and the gravity centers of the monitored shield dune moved windward, indicating that sand was transported toward the oasis. Conversely, the dune volume of the mega pyramid dune increased and the gravity center presented no prominent movement, indicating that the mega pyramid dune was relatively stable and its migration toward the oasis was not notable. Thus, compared with mega pyramid dunes, shield dunes in the southern edge of Dunhuang Oasis are identified as a more significant sand source endangering the protection of the oasis, and sand-control engineering should mainly focus on these shield dunes.


Dunhuang Oasis Dune dynamics 3-D laser scanner Shield dune Mega pyramid dune 


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This research was supported by the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (Grant No. 41871016), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC0504801), Opening Fund of Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KLDD-2017-007) and Technology research and development program of China Railway Urumqi Group Co., Ltd. (2017J002, 2017J003).


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dunhuang Gobi and Desert Research Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Desert and DesertificationChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  3. 3.Academy of Water Resource Conservation Forests of Qilian Mountains in Gansu ProvinceTest Station of Desertification Control in HongshawoZhangyeChina

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