Aeolian processes and landforms in the sub-Antarctic: Preliminary observations from Marion Island

  • David W. Hedding University of South Africa
  • Werner Nel University of Fort Hare
  • Ryan L. Anderson University of South Africa
Keywords: Marion Island, climate change, wind, erosion, dispersal


Sub-Antarctic Marion Island has a hyperoceanic climate, with cold and wet conditions and consistently strong wind velocities throughout the year. Recent observations recognized the increasing role of aeolian processes as a geomorphic agent, and this paper presents the first data for transport by aeolian processes on a sub-Antarctic island. Data were collected through an intensive and high-resolution measurement campaign at three study sites using Big Spring Number Eight sediment traps and surface sediment samplers in conjunction with an array of climatic and soil logger sensors. Observed aeolian landforms are megaripples, and the data suggest that aeolian processes are also modifying solifluction landforms. The sediment traps and sediment samplers collected wind-blown scoria at all three study sites, and the annual (horizontal) aeolian sediment flux extrapolated from this preliminary data is estimated at 0.36–3.85 kg cm−2 y−1. Importantly, plant material of various species was trapped during the study that suggests the efficiency of wind for the dispersal of plants in this sub-Antarctic environment may be underestimated. This paper advocates long-term monitoring of aeolian processes and that the link between aeolian processes and synoptic climate must be established. Furthermore, wind as a means to disperse genetic material on Marion Island should be investigated.

Keywords: Marion Island; climate change; wind; erosion; dispersal.

(Published: 23 November 2015)

Citation: Polar Research 2015, 34, 26365,


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

David W. Hedding, University of South Africa

Senior Lecturer

Department of Geography


Werner Nel, University of Fort Hare

Associate Professor

Department of geography and Environmental Science


Ryan L. Anderson, University of South Africa


Department of Geography

How to Cite
Hedding, D. W., Nel, W., & Anderson, R. L. (2015). Aeolian processes and landforms in the sub-Antarctic: Preliminary observations from Marion Island. Polar Research, 34.
Research/review articles