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From Latin saltus (to leap).


saltation (countable and uncountable, plural saltations)

  1. A leap, jump or dance.
  2. Beating or palpitation.
    the saltation of the great artery
  3. (biology) A sudden change from one generation to the next; a mutation.
    • 1871, Thomas Henry Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews[1], page 312:
      Indeed we have always thought that Mr. Darwin has unnecessarily hampered himself by adhering so strictly to his favourite “Natura non facit saltum.” We greatly suspect that nature does make considerable jumps in the way of variation now and then, and that these saltations give rise to some of the gaps which appear to exist in the series of known forms.
  4. Any abrupt transition.
    • 2002, Mark Hollins, 14: Touch and Haptics, Steven Yantis (editor), Stevens′ Handbook of Experimental Psychology, Sensation and Perception, page 602,
      Thus, a tap that precedes the final one by a tenth of a second will likely appear to be midway between the contactors, whereas a tap preceding the final one by only 20 ms will appear to be virtually superimposed on it. Because the overall experience is of a stimulus jumping from place to place, Geldard called the phenomenon saltation. [] First, saltation can occur only over a limited distance: A tap on the shoulder will not be drawn toward a later one delivered to the foot.
  5. (geology, fluid mechanics) The transport of loose particles by a fluid (such as wind or flowing water).
    • 1987, Ronald Greeley, James D. Iversen, Wind as a Geological Process: On Earth, Mars, Venus and Titan, page 98,
      Of extreme importance in the saltation phenomenon is the vertical distribution of particles, as well as total flux, as functions of the wind speed. The formations of all scales of bed formations, from centimeter-size ripples to kilometer-size dunes, are all due to the saltation process.
    • 2004, Basil Gomez, Mobile Bed, entry in Andrew Goudie (editor), Encyclopedia of Geomorphology, Volume 2, page 685,
      Saltation rapidly becomes the dominant type of motion as the flow intensity increases further, and at still higher flow intensities suspension begins to dominate. [] There is also an important difference between the movement of particles by saltation, in air and in water.
    • 2006, David McClung, Peter Schaerer, The Avalanche Handbook, page 33,
      Rolling is thought to account for about 10% of the mass when creep and saltation occur together. [] The transition from saltation to suspension occurs when the wind speed exceeds about 15 m/s.

Derived terms[edit]




saltation f (plural saltations)

  1. saltation

Further reading[edit]