Aeolian: Geology Word of the Week

Wind God

Sorry for the delay in posting the next “Geology Word of the Week.” I had my thesis proposal defense on Friday and was only sleeping about four hours a night all last week. The defense went very well, and I am now a full-fledged PhD candidate. Yay!

Since my thesis field area is in the Middle East, I am learning something about sand. Therefore, I was inspired to present a word related to sand, dust, wind, and such. Also, my paper quotation can come directly from a paper I am reading tonight. Two birds with one stone!


1. of or relating to the wind
2. (geology) carried, deposited, or eroded by the wind
3. (proposed) lacking substance; ephemeral and transparent, like the wind

The word Aeolian comes from the name of the ancient Greek God Aeolus, who was ruler of the winds.

Example use from the geology literature:

“About two thirds of the area is dominated by aeolian landforms, of which sand seas (ergs) and dune fields are the primary features… Sand seas are large accumulations of aeolian sand, usually dominated by sand sheets and sand dunes… The Wahiba Sand Sea in the Sultanate of Oman derives from sand transport driven by regional winds and local geomorphic processes.”

-From: Pease and Tchakerian (2002)
“Composition and Sources of Sand in the Wahiba Sand Sea, Sultanate of Oman”
Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 92, No. 3, pp. 416-434

And here’s an example of my proposed usage:

“The new age healer gave an aeolian justification of crystal healing. As he described the way in which crystals interact with magical ‘energy vortexes’ strengthened by his psychic presence, I swear I saw a gust of wind enter through his one ear, rattle around his mostly-empty skull, and exit through his other ear, barely slowed in the passage.”

Now, go have fun adding “aeolian” to your daily vocabulary!


Evelyn is a geologist, writer, traveler, and skeptic residing in Cape Town, South Africa with frequent trips back to the US for work. She has two adorable cats; enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking; and has a very large rock collection. You can follow her on twitter @GeoEvelyn. She also writes a geology blog called Georneys.

Related Articles


  1. “Aeolian” is also a musical mode, and follows the pattern of the natural minor scale, ie. tone, semitone, tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone. Therefore, A Aeolian is A to A’ in the key of C.

    However, that has nothing to do with geology, does it? :D

  2. Congratulations on this most excellent news!! Here’s hoping it takes you fewer years than it did me (coughcoughmumblesevenyearsmumblemumblecough)!

  3. Huzzah for the phud!

    Aeolian is also a classical “mode” in music, roughly equivalent to the natural minor scale, from the times before equal temperament. Still used in some folk musics.

  4. Congratulations! That’s a huge step. Aeolian is also a very useful word to know for Scrabble. Seriously, next time you get that many vowels on your rack, remember this one.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: