There are several basic ingredients that are needed to form a sand dune. You need a source of sand -- the offshore rocks that are breaking down into sand. You also need some kind of a transport mechanism -- like the ocean currents, that could bring sand to a beach. And you need a receptive shoreline where the sand will be deposited and then you need plants. So dunes build up where the plants trap the sand blown in off the beach.
State Park Senior Environmental Scientist Tom Moss.
The dunes, at Asilomar, are aligned with the prevailing winds. It’s a ridge-type form, with inter-dune swells. The entire conference grounds is actually built on an old dunes system. It’s not just the area out towards the west between the conference grounds and the ocean where the dunes are. You can see the same pattern through the conference grounds with the ridges of the dunes becoming higher as you move inland.
To keep a balance between the sand that’s eroded by wind and the sand that’s deposited by the ocean, park staff plant and maintain the coastal bluffs and dunes.