The term blowout denotes a depression or deflation caused by incessant or periodically strong winds sweeping soil, sand, or gravel out of a flat. These depressions often start where surface vegetation has been scarified, denuded by fire, broken by animals as in a wallow, or damaged by off-road vehicles. Rabbits’ warrens precipitated blowouts in San Juan Island National Historical Park in Washington, while down the coast near Florence, Oregon, dune-buggy cuts have invited deep blowouts in Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Blowouts can perpetuate themselves, their edges further channeling the wind. Where dune grass or sand verbena hold some but not all the home material in place, the wind may scoop deeper and deeper around the plants, stranding their taproots like pilings at low tide. Prospectors use the term blowout to describe colored, altered rock outcrops that signify ore deposits below, while gas and oil workers use the term for wells that have burst their caps.

Robert Michael Pyle