121. Arctic Ventifact (1970s)

Arctic Ventifact

Earth is eroded by many different forces, including ice, water, and wind. Wind erosion can occur when dry, loose soil on the surface is exposed to wind, as happened in North America during the hot, dry Dust Bowl, which added much human misery to the Depression during the 1930s.

Rocks eroded by wind are called ventifacts. They have smooth, well-polished sides, and sharp edges that have been “sand-blasted” by sands transported at high speed by the wind. Ventifacts are rare in most of Canada, because, typically, it is covered by vegetation, which prevents wind erosion. They can, however, be found along some beaches and shorelines in southern Canada. They are also found in the “cold deserts” of the High Arctic, where bare soil and rocks are exposed to strong winds.

Geological Survey of Canada geologist John Fyles found this large sandstone ventifact on Ellef Ringnes Island in the Arctic. It measures 30 x 20 x 20 cm, with four distinctive facets, or sides, on its well-polished surface. It is a testament to the erosive power of wind that can occur under extreme conditions of climate.

Category: Rocks, Fossils, Minerals and Meteorites

Decade: 1970s

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