Weathering and Landforms Topics

Wind and Ice

Wind and ice can be important shapers of the land.  Wind is an important erosional force in deserts.  Ice is more important near the poles and at high elevations where glaciers form.


• Wind helps shape Virginia’s shorelines.  Dunes are wind-formed features that act as important barriers against wave erosion.

Dune fence
Wind shapes the dunes along Virginia's beaches. At this barrier island beach, a sand fence has been built to stabilize dunes. (Photograph by Stan Johnson)


• Virginia does not have any glaciers.  During the Pleistocene Ice Age, large glaciers did not reach Virginia.  However, some alpine glaciers may have formed at high elevations.  Climate changes that accompanied the ice age affected Virginia’s landscape.

1.6 million years ago to 10,000 years ago

Angular boulders typical of weathering when the climate was colder. (Photographs by Jonathan Newbill)

MapBoulder fields like Devil’s Marbleyard, in Rockbridge County (photos above), probably formed when the climate was colder during the Pleistocene Ice Age.  The colder climate prevented plant growth and promoted weathering. 

1.6 million years ago to 10,000 years ago