Deadvlei is surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, the highest reaching 300-400 meters, which rest on a sandstone terrace. The clay pan was formed after rainfall, when the Tsauchab river flooded, creating temporary shallow pools where the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. When the climate changed, drought hit the area, and sand dunes encroached on the pan, which blocked the river from the area.
The trees died, as there no longer was enough water to survive. The remaining skeletons of the trees, which are believed to be about 900 years old, are now black because the intense sun has scorched them. Though not petrified, the wood does not decompose because it is so dry.
I took this shot on this year's Namibia workshop. Climate change is happening all over the world, even here. This should be one of the driest places on the planet, but this year there has been a record-breaking amount of rain in Namibia and the water from the flooding rivers got all the way up to here. On the other side of the dunes there was even a small lake - very unusual. What you see here is very dense fog creeping over the dunes, about to fill the valley.
©2011 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.