It was recently asked within the Oz community the following question:
What IS the difference between The Deadly Desert, The Impassable Desert, The Great Sandy Waste and The Shifting Sands?
As I understand it, the large expanse of sand surrounding the Land of Oz is comprised mostly of Silica, a common component of nearly every sandy region on Earth and in Oz. The obvious difference being the magical properties inherent in the sands surrounding Oz.
This was done primarily to isolate and protect the Land of Oz from the Great Outside, which of course means US!
The only other perceptible difference is the very slight tinge, if you will, of the color of sand in each region.
For example, The Great Sandy Waste, the only sandy region I have personally witnessed has a very slight reddish tinge to it.
It was explained to me by Glinda that the sands are tinged red due to the presence of naturally occurring Rubies, which are found in great abundance in the South; Quadling Country and are ground down by the natural erosion process found in Oz. These processes are identical to those in the Great Outside.
She went on to mention that in the East; Munchkin Country, where the Shifting Sands lie, the region is tinted a very light blue due to the presence of Celestine, a pale blue sulfate mineral found in scattered occurrences with gypsum or rock salt.
Salt is another mineral found in great abundance in the sands surrounding the Land of Oz and are the primary mineral responsible, due largely to the magical transformation by Queen Lurline (possibly as I neglected to ask Glinda) for the almost instantaneous dessication and destruction of any living creature which touches the sands.
Glinda went on to point out that in the West; Winkie Country, where the Deadly Desert lies, the sands take on a distinctive yellow tint, owing to the abundance of eroded Sulfur.
In the North; Gillikin Country where lies the Impassable Desert, the sands have a slight, yet distinct purplish tint owing to the presence of Amethyst.
Overall, the effectiveness of the sands surrounding the Land of Oz cannot be overstated, irregardless of their respective names.
James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma
magicianofoz (Twitter id)