THE REMOTE SENSING OF SAND DUNES IN BAJA CALIFONIA, MEXICO
Using image data from the LANDSAT and ASTER satellite systems is an effective way to geologically survey rugged, low-vegetation areas such as the Baja California peninsula. Within a given image, carbonate-rich dunes appear brighter than their low-carbonate equivalents. We used the remote sensing software ENVI 4.2 to measure the area of dune fields from satellite images in order to estimate carbon content. Higher resolution panchromatic, or comparable multi-band data in the visible range, is now available for many of these dune fields through the Google Earth mapping service. We used Google Earth to enhance our coastal dune study, measure more accurately the average wind direction for dune fields, and identify previously undescribed sheet dunes from the Gulf of California coast, interior mountain basins of the Baja peninsula, and Isla Tiburon. A comparison of the intermountain sheet dunes with the classic sheet dunes from the Mohave Desert region, using Google Earth, suggests that these sand sheets have a similar pluvial origin.