Grain size, mineralogical and geochemical studies of coastal and inland dune sands from El Vizcaíno Desert, Baja California Peninsula, Mexico
A sedimentological, petrological and geochemical research work was carried out in order to find out the origin and provenance of coastal and inland desert dunes from El Vizcaíno Desert, northwestern Mexico. Fifty four sand samples were collected from the windward, crest and slip face of coastal and desert dunes (barchan, transverse, aeolian sand sheets). Onshore winds generates fine, well sorted, near symmetrical dune sands with mesokurtic distributions in the El Vizcaíno Desert inherited from beach sands from the Vizcaíno bay. The coastal and inland dune sands are derived from nearby sand sources like the beach sands and also from alluvial deposits originated from sedimentary-volcanic and schists, granitic and granodiorite sources. This is evidenced by the presence of high quartz content, shell debris, carbonates, mica and hornblende that are constituents of the both coastal and inland dune sands and are probably derived from the action of longshore drifts and onshore winds. The El Vizcaíno coastal and inland dune sands are placed in the craton interior and recycled orogen fields in the Q-F-L diagram suggesting intrusive, sedimentary and partly metamorphosed sources in the composition of the sand. The geochemistry of the sands supports also the maturity process of the sands mainly associated with the presence of alluvial deposits and marine-aeolian action. Additionally, the El Vizcaíno dune sands are chemically related to acid rocks, felsic-plutonic detritus source rocks, which are associated to an active continental margin. The low chemical index of alteration (CIA) values in the dune sands suggest that dryness of the area plays a role in the preservation of labile minerals. The presence of volcanic, metamorphic and plutonic rock around the El Vizcaíno desert basin might contribute to the higher content of plagioclase and mica in the sands when compared to other North American deserts.