From reading the novels, the impression is that Dune is like a vast ocean of sand, with the sandworms akin to gigantic sea-monsters, only in sand. I can't remember any specific mention of how deep the sands are, though. They'd certainly need to be quite deep to accommodate some of the very big worms, and it is said that the sandtrout can go deeper still.

Here on Earth, although desert depth is hard to measure, it is said that the Sahara is up to 40m deep, although deserts far into geologic history can have depths of several hundred meters. Then again, the sandworms aren't exactly physically plausible, so speculation based on the real world will only go so far.

How deep are the sands on Arrakis? Is there any direct or indirect reference in the books, or any notes?

  • Not an answer, but note that the Sahara is a very recent desert, so probably shouldn't be expected to have deep sand. – Daniel Roseman Oct 7 '14 at 8:58
  • there at least deep enough, for worms, but we also know that the planet was able to be returned to a "normal" type planet similar to appearance to earth after about 3000 years of the reign of the God emperor. should the entire plannet have been miles deep of sand that is quite a feet as they would have taken sand off of the planet and then replaced it with soil to make things verdant. i always assumed the deserts were similar to the sahara, as the planet became a sand planet again within about 1000 years after the god emperors death. – Himarm Oct 7 '14 at 13:05
  • @Himarm - They were using deep-rooted grasses to "fix" the dunes into place. – Valorum Oct 7 '14 at 17:45

There's no canon confirmation of the average depth of the sand. The sole indication seen in the original Dune novels are from the death of Liet-Kynes where he narrates the pre-spice mass forming below his feet:

"only a hundred meters or so beneath him; a worm sure to come, but no way to trap it on the surface and use it.".

He goes on to describe this as

"deep in the sand"

but whether he's indicating that it's near the bedrock (e.g. in the same way that we might describe the "depths" of the ocean) is wholly unclear.

Later on, we see that the Fremen have been building sand-dunes that are truly enormous in scale:

With the downwind face anchored, the windward face grew higher and higher and the grass was moved to keep pace. Giant sifs (long dunes with sinuous crest) of more than 1,500 meters height were produced

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