Singing sand, whistling sand or barking sand is sand that produces sounds of either high or low frequency under pressure. The sound emission is usually triggered by wind passing over dunes or by walking on the sand. The sound is generated by shear stress.
Certain conditions have to come together to create singing sand:
The most common frequency emitted seems to be close to 450 Hz.
Importantly, there are still scientific controversies on the details of the singing sand mechanism (see references). It has been proposed that the sound frequency is controlled by the shear rate. Others have suggested that the frequency of vibration is related to the thickness of the dry surface layer of sand. The sound waves bounce back and forth between the surface of the dune and the surface of the moist layer creating a resonance that increases the sound's volume.
Other sounds that can be emitted by sand have been described as "roaring" or "booming".
The particular note produced by the dune, between 60 and 105 Hertz, is controlled by the rate of collision in the shear band separating the avalanche from the static part of the dune. For spontaneous avalanches, the frequency is controlled by gravity and by the size of the sand grains.
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