Windflow Circulation Patterns in a Coastal Dune Blowout, South Coast of Lake Michigan


  • Gordon S. Fraser
  • Steven W. Bennett
  • Greg A. Olyphant
  • Nancy J. Bauch
  • Victoria Ferguson
  • Christopher A. Gellasch
  • Clayton L. Millard
  • Barbel Mueller
  • Patrick J. O'Malley
  • J. Nathan Way
  • Margaret C. Woodfield


Wind erosion, dune geomorphology, wind-profile systems, dune stabilization


The windflow patterns in a large active blowout in a coastal dune on the southern shore of Lake Michigan were intensively monitored during a two-day period when the predominant winds shifted from onshore (Day 1) to offshore (Day 2). The wind data were used in conjunction with mapped geomorphic features and sedimentologic characteristics to infer the following aspects of blowout evolution: (1) Prevailing winds are transformed considerably once they enter the blowout. Flow separation occurs when offshore winds enter the blowout over the steep back wall. Separated flows may, in turn, induce countercurrent flows within the trough. Flow expansion and deceleration occur when onshore winds enter over gently sloping walls at the front of the blowout. (2) Maximum erosion occurs along the deflationary floor near the entrance to the blowout, and lateral extensional lobes are also expanding the blowout to the east. Sand avalanches down the eastern and western lateral walls toward the deflationary floor where it is moved toward the rear of the blowout and up the ramp at the south end. Sand leaves the blowout as a series of depositional lobes prograding out onto the surface of the host dune along the south and east walls. (3) Vegetation prevents expansion of the blowout in certain directions and impediments to flow, such as slump blocks, alter circulation patterns and sand transport paths. (4) Prevailing onshore winds deflate the floor and promote eastward expansion of lateral erosional lobes, whereas strong flows from the southwest apparently are the main cause of transport up the transportational ramp and over the south wall of the blowout.