What is sand?

Beaches and sand go hand in hand.  But so often people take for granted that amazing sand, and where exactly it has come from.

magnified grains of sand, made from coral, in bermuda.

magnified grains of sand, made from coral, in bermuda.

You may have noticed that sand is sometimes different colors and consistencies.  Black sand beaches in Hawaii or St Vincent, Pink sand beaches (Crane Beach in Barbados), white, yellow, brown.  The most common material of sand is silica (quartz), but coral and lava and others are not uncommon. As you can guess, rocks and mountains get worn and smoothed down, picked up and moved by wind, rain, glaciers, and rivers and deposited in oceans or sand dunes.

In Los Angeles, a lot of the sand comes from the San Gabriel Mountains, flushed out by rain into the river and eventually the ocean.  All this travel smooshes the mountain into smaller and smaller bits until..it’s sand.

Sand is grouped into different grades by its density: fine, medium, and coarse. Harder minerals are found in higher consistencies because they wear down slower over time.

Sometimes, you can tell a beach is older based on the fineness of the sand: very fine sand is older, and has spent more time being rubbed together, and worn down.  Newer sand is more coarse (although it is, by definition, finer than gravel). Also, more coarse sand has not traveled as far, and is closer to its source material.

human left waste has transformed into something beautiful: sea glass on a beach in  California, nature has a way of helping itself

human left waste has transformed into something beautiful: sea glass on a beach in California, nature has a way of helping itself

Every step we take on sand transports us to perhaps hundreds or thousands of miles, moved by wind, ocean, and rain, slowly ground down and polished into tiny pieces of perfection, to take its place among uncountable other grains.  Some grains may cling to your feet, or hide in your swimsuit, or in your ears; tiny boulders, coral reefs, mountains, and shell fish.

happy beachy-summer, remember to take a moment to marvel at the littlest things,

-merbabe

Did you know there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on earth?

Screen shot 2013-07-23 at 7.23.42 PM

a close up of sea glass

mixed carbonate-silicate sand.

mixed carbonate-silicate sand.

Pictures of sand borrowed from this site. SandAtlas, telling you everything you ever didn’t wonder about sand (but maybe should have).

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