Yardangs

Harbingers of Strife

"But there is a marvellous thing related of this Desert, which is that when travellers are on the move by night, and one of them chances to lag behind or to fall asleep or the like, when he tries to gain his company again he will hear spirits talking, and will suppose them to be his comrades. Sometimes the spirits will call him by name; and thus shall a traveller ofttimes be led astray so that he never finds his party. And in this way many have perished. [Sometimes the stray travellers will hear as it were the tramp and hum of a great cavalcade of people away from the real line of the road, and taking this to be their own company they will follow the sound; and when day breaks they find that a cheat has been put on them and that they are in an ill plight. Even in the day-time one hears those spirits talking. And sometimes you shall hear the sound of a variety of musical instruments, and still more commonly the sound of drums. [Hence in making this journey 'tis customary for travellers to keep close together. All the animals too have bells at their necks, so that they cannot easily get astray. And at sleeping-time a signal is put up to show the direction of the next march.] So thus it is that the Desert is crossed." --Marco Polo

"This at any rate is certain: that it is the wind which is the most powerful physical agent in moulding the features of the Earth's surface in those parts of the world." --Sven Hedin


Kerber, L. (2016) Controls on the Morphology of Yardangs on the Earth and Mars. 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (March), Abs. 2708.