LANDSCAPE / Parabolic Dunes

A history of dunes and entire terrain of the Curonian Spit is closely linked to its origin and past. A material for its formation was provided by the Baltic Sea waves and longitudinal coastal streams delivering massive volumes of sand from the eroding coasts of the Sambia peninsula. Initially the undercurrents had shaped submarine sand reliefs, which emerged out of water after sea level regression. The spit was elongated by waves and currents and widened by wind.

Wind used to dry the sand quickly and blow it.  Vegetation was the first obstruction for sand drifting. Higher or lower sand hillocks accumulated at such plants and merging into each other formed so-called embryonic dunes. Natural foredunes - a beach ridge - have developed over the years. The sand could get inland through deflations and illuviation that used to appear during the storms. The dunes in a shape of elongated horseshoe - parabolic dunes - started forming at certain places of the dune ridge.  According to the scientists, a shape of dunes depends on three key factors: wind strength, precipitation and vegetation. During formation of parabolic dunes there was relatively low wind power and lots of precipitation that caused vegetation spreading. Due to crossings of drifting dune paths, orographic barriers and different flora impact the entire chains of dunes have been formed over time.

Over the decades the parabolic dunes afforested, however this natural surface was damaged in the course of 16th-18th centuries and thereby naked ground turned into a wasteland of wind drifted sand. Within several decades of the 18th century the wind blew the western part of the peninsular away and deposited marine sand dunes at its eastern side. Sand storms on their way flattened out the remains of forests.  Some small areas of ancient forests have just remained near Rasytė, Nida and Juodkrantė.

The major massif of vegetated (ancient forest) parabolic dunes can be seen in Juodkrantė. All the settlement is rounded by those dunes at the western side. 


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