# Is there sand in Antarctica?

There's a song "Blizzard's Never Seen the Desert's Sand". Given Antarctica is a desert, someone questioned the title's validity. BUT is there sand in Antarctica?

I'd imagine yes as it's a pretty basic soil and Antarctica is a big place, and I know there is land mass, not just ice, in Antarctica. I'm not sure though - any more info or evidence about the presence of sand?

• The song for the record, as background music for anyone writing an answer: youtube.com/watch?v=vNTcA63VZ0s – cr0 May 20 '18 at 22:31
• Well I was going to say an interesting expanded question as someone who knows little about Antarctica would be "Is there any land exposed at all" at points during the year. Even for those who know it's a desert, such a polar location would seem it could be all ice/snow covered. But clearly, based upon the answer, looks like yes, there are! Really interesting question. – JeopardyTempest May 20 '18 at 22:48
• Don't forget the other half - are there blizzards in Antarctica? :P – Luaan May 21 '18 at 7:15
• Is it wrong to upvote the question just for the song choice? – maxathousand May 21 '18 at 20:44
• Given that on the location of Chicago there were dunes once, i severely doubt Blizzards miss out on sand. – bukwyrm May 22 '18 at 5:29

Yes. In fact, there are sand-dunes in Antarctica [1:15].

• It is enough for obvious 'yes' to the question, but how much sand there is under the ice layer? – 9ilsdx 9rvj 0lo May 22 '18 at 6:32

This LiveScience article suggests the areas aren't major:

The scant areas that are free of snow and ice make up less than 0.4 percent of the continental land mass. In places there, the wind has built sand dunes.

This article by Burton-Johnson et al., 2016 on automated satellite analysis methods, summarized in this DailyMail article, indicates refined estimates nearer 0.18% of the continent is not covered by ice/snow.

Based upon the area of Antarctica from Wikipedia (you might be surprised how big Antarctica is!), that would equate to around 10,000 mi$^2$ of uncovered land (see comments for comparison). Of course it may well be that not even all of that area is sand.

It looks from the articles like the largest place to find these sands are the McMurdo Dry Valleys, such as Victoria Valley, which are on the Eastern Antarctica sublandmass [see the sentences directly above the image entitled Deglaciated Antarctic Toporgraph, plus that image itself].

So it sounds like they really do exist, but are relatively rare expanses!

• @Coomie you can't <sup> in comments :p – user1306322 May 22 '18 at 12:14
• But you can $^2$ (which is achieved by typing $^2$)! Mathjax formatting is fairly useful, if a bit of work for non LaTeX'ers. – JeopardyTempest May 22 '18 at 12:21
• For scale: 0.18% of 14 million km$^2$ is 25,200 km$^2$, about the area of West Virginia or Wales or half of Tasmania. – Coomie May 22 '18 at 23:57
• This answer does give a little more detail but @Klaus' is sufficient and was quick, impressively brief but complete, and has overwhelming community support. Plus that user has a little fewer points. So, I accepted theirs, but thank you for the informative addition! – cr0 May 23 '18 at 0:51
• @cr0 oh no problem at all, I like his/her answer best too, and totally support your selection. I just liked your question enough to the point I thought it useful to add a little more background to better help it grow and offer more information to anyone reading :) For those of us who've been around a while, there's often less interest in the reputation than in seeing the benefit of the community and others :) – JeopardyTempest May 23 '18 at 1:22