To see a World in a Grain of Sand
 And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
 Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
 And Eternity in an hour


Blake, William, 1757-1827 :  Auguries of Innocence


Stories of ship-wrecks on desert and tropical islands were popular in Blake’s time.   In 1719 Daniel Defoe had published his Robinson Crusoe and later Johann David Wyss published his adverture story The Swiss Family Robinson in 1813.  

On his island Robinson Crusoe attempts to make a stone mortar ‘to stamp or beat some corn in’,  but to his dismay Robinson found that the rocks on his island were either too hard or too soft..’ nor indeed were the Rocks in the Island of Hardness sufficient, but were all of a sandy crumbling Stone, which neither would bear the Weight of a heavy Pestle, or would break the Corn without filling it with Sand’.  

Defoe, however,  made sure Crusoe did not starve on his sandy island.  Robinson Crusoe’s  island supported a broad selection of vegetation – aloes, sugar cane, tabacco, cocoa trees, orange, lemon, and lime trees,  grasses, melons,  dates  and   ‘there were divers other Plants which I had no Notion of, or Understanding about, and might perhaps have Vertues of their own, which I could find out.’

Real sandy environments and gravel plains  support a variety of plants and animals.   The Australian, Thar, Sahara and Kalahari deserts supports grasses, saltbush and acacia, while the Sonoran,  Monte,  Mojave and Chihuahuan deserts are home to the creosote bushdesert sand verbena and desert mariposa lily.

Loughborough University Library subscribes to a large selection of journals covering earth surface processes of sandy environments, ecology and geomorphology such as …





The European physical journal E: soft matter




Zeitschrift fur geomorphologie

Earth surface processes and         landforms     


Palaeogeography,  palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology   


Journal of arid environments 



      Journal of Biogeography



Annual review of ecology and  systematics


Journal of Coastal Research

Sedimentary Geology

The Holocene


Most geography-related journals are available online via MetaLib, with off campus access available using Athens username and password or by logging in to the Remote Working Portal   

If you would like to know more about the geography of sandy environments, please visit the links below.


Desert Knowledge CRC Data Project

Sands of Time [Sefton Coast – North West England]

Geology of Sand Dunes

Australian desert exploration

Wind and Deserts 

Laboratory Manual for Historical Geology

Sand Dunes: A Phenomenon Of Wind

Desert Research Center (DRC)

Deserts and Wind Action

Deserts of the World

Deserts: Geology and Resources [USGS]



Loughborough University Department of Geography


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