Where Did This Sand Come From?
ES1607  Sand Environments

The abundance and characteristics of sand that accumulates in an area are controlled by the energy of the sand environment. Beaches with high-energy waves may contain very little sand. Sand that is present in this type of environment is typically rounded in shape. Lower-energy environments such as beaches with gentle waves can accumulate more sand. Sand grains along calm beaches may have a more angular shape.

International Sand Collectors Society
Sand from Coromandel, New Zealand. This sample consists of smooth shell fragments and angular mineral grains. The shapes suggest the mineral grains have not traveled far from their source. The mixture of shells and minerals indicates at least two sources for the sand.
NOAA
Crashing waves at Point Lobos, California. Beach environments with strong wave action typically result in deposition of small amounts of well-rounded sand grains. As quartz grains are typically the most resistant to erosion, high-energy beach sand is often composed of quartz grains.
NOAA
Black sand beach in Hawaii. Black sand is formed from weathering and erosion of basalt, a dark volcanic rock. Weak wave action promotes deposition of large amounts of sand.
International Sand Collectors Society
Sand composed of disc-shaped fossils called forams, Belgium. This sand was formed on an ocean floor, where the shells of dead forams fell to the bottom.

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