The Giant Dune of Pyla

08 octubre 2007

Reaching a height of 107 metres, the Great Dune of Pyla (in France) is the highest sand dune in Europe. Located on the edge of Arcachon bay, this great transverse dune is 3km long and 500m wide and reaches a volume of 60,000,000m³.

The crest has an altitude fluctuating between 70m and 107m an it progressively moves inland, the East side invading the Pine Forest. The annual displacement is about 3m to 4.3m into the forest.

This migration of the Great Dune has covered private plots of forest. The Great Dune overlaps about twenty private properties. Each year, the sand of the east slope of the dune covers 8000m2 of forest. At the North East part of the dune, a road was overlapped in 1987 after an avalanche of sand, and buried in 1991. The example of a house buried over the dune is cited in a newspaper "L’Illustration", paper written by Ricaudy in September, 19, 1936.

The Dune of Pyla is a recent formation built after the XVIIIth century and essentially at the end of the XIXth century by accumulation of Aeolian sands on a transverse dune. Between 1826 and 1922, the Pyla coast has been eroded of about 500m. The vegetation covering the West side of the "Dune de La Grave" was destroyed. Without vegetation, the sands were transported by the wind toward the summit and deposited on the young pines and on the lee side.

In about forty years, if the progression of the dune goes on at the same speed, the Biscarrosse road and the camping located at the foot of the slope will be buried under the sands.

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