Study Reveals Secrets of Star Dunes: Formation Process and Internal Structure Unveiled

Study Reveals Secrets of Star Dunes: Formation Process and Internal Structure Unveiled

Star dunes, remarkable geological formations found in deserts, captivate scientists due to their unique structure and formation process.

Description of Star Dunes

Star dunes are pyramid-shaped sand formations, towering up to 1,000 feet (300 meters) with arms extending from a central peak, resembling a star when viewed from above.

Study Overview

A recent study unveils insights into the internal structure and formation timeline of a specific star dune, Lala Lallia, situated in eastern Morocco within the Sahara Desert.

Study Details

The study focused on Lala Lallia, located in the Erg Chebbi sand sea, about 3 miles (5 km) from Merzouga, Morocco.

Characteristics of Lala Lallia

  • Height: Approximately 330 feet (100 meters)
  • Width: About 2,300 feet (700 meters)
  • Sand Content: Contains around 5-1/2 million metric tons of sand.


Researchers employed ground-penetrating radar to examine the internal structure of the dune. Luminescence dating was used to estimate Lala Lallia’s formation time, based on energy trapped within sand grains.

Formation Time

Lala Lallia took approximately 900 years to form, accumulating roughly 6,400 metric tons of sand annually due to relentless wind activity.

Significance of Star Dunes

Star dunes, constituting nearly 10% of Earth’s desert dunes, surpass other types in height and have been observed on celestial bodies like Mars and Titan.

Geological Significance

By revealing the internal structure of star dunes, the study provides insights for identifying ancient star dune remnants in geological records.


Besides Morocco, star dunes are found in various deserts worldwide, including China, Namibia, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia.


Star dunes, with their striking appearance and complex formation process, continue to intrigue scientists and inspire admiration for the beauty of desert landscapes.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. What is the estimated height of Lala Lallia, a star dune in eastern Morocco?
    • a) 500 feet
    • b) 330 feet
    • c) 700 meters
    • d) 1,000 meters
    • Answer: b) 330 feet
  2. How long did it take for Lala Lallia to form?
    • a) 500 years
    • b) 900 years
    • c) 1,200 years
    • d) 700 years
    • Answer: b) 900 years
  3. What method did researchers use to examine the internal structure of Lala Lallia?
    • a) Satellite imaging
    • b) Ground-penetrating radar
    • c) Aerial surveys
    • d) Seismic analysis
    • Answer: b) Ground-penetrating radar
  4. In which desert is the Badain Jaran, home to Earth’s largest star dunes?
    • a) Sahara Desert
    • b) Arabian Desert
    • c) Gobi Desert
    • d) Atacama Desert
    • Answer: c) Gobi Desert