Wind Landforms

Lisa Tranel, Illinois State University
Author Profile


In this assignment, students evaluate depositional and erosional landforms created by wind processes. This exercise looks at sand dune and yardang features using satellite images and topographic maps in an online GIS.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



Geomorphology is an upper level course in our geology department that will serve as an elective for undergraduate geology and geography students and graduate students in our Hydrogeology master's program. Occasionally students in biology or archaeology will also take this class. The prerequisite for this class is an introduction to geology or physical geography class.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

The students should have knowledge of wind processes and landforms. Students should to be able to calculate the slope of a surface.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone lab exercise for the students to complete after learning about wind landforms and processes.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This activity is designed to demonstrate the development of landforms through wind deposition and erosion and link these features to global wind patterns.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will link the formation of landscape features with climate patterns.

Students will visualize the landscape features that are formed at local and regional scales.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will use tools in an online GIS.

Description and Teaching Materials

In this activity, students visit different sites designated on a digital map to look at dunes and yardangs. This activity uses ESRI's online ArcGIS Explorer. Students have the link to open the map that is already set up for them to view. The locations are set up with pins and pop-up windows that have images and links to the relevant reference. Students use satellite images and topographic maps that are available on the GIS to view and study the location and shape of the landscape features.

Wind Landforms Assignment (Microsoft Word 81kB Jun19 14)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity could be easily modified to different locations by adding pins, images, or websites in the pop-up links.

Students are required to create an account if they want to save any sketches or changes to the map. Students can create a free account ( if they click on the Create a Public Account option. This will allow the students to save their maps to return to them at a later time. The Public Account option has limitations in the tools that they are available, but basic tools are all that I require for this assignment. If students do not want to create an account, I have them take screen shots of their completed sketches to submit with the assignment.


References and Resources