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Playing and lying in the sand is one of the great parts about going to the beach. But where does beach sand come from? Is it coming from the shore or the depths of the sea?
You might be sitting in the sand now, enjoying its soft texture and warmth. Or maybe you’re looking to buy sand for your child’s sandbox. I’ve spent a lot of my life at the beach and on the sand and although I’m now an adult I still enjoy playing in the sand.
In the sections below we’ll discuss where beach sand comes from and the different types of sand you might find at the beach.
Beach Sand Comes From The Ocean
I’ve always wondered whether beach sand comes from the shore or from the ocean. Is the ocean pulling sand into the water or pushing it out?
Beach sand primarily comes from the ocean where rocks and minerals are broken down over thousands of years and are deposited on the shore by the tide.
Have you ever gone for a swim in the ocean and exited the water only to find a bunch of sand in your swimsuit? How did it get in there?
Even though it’s so small, sand is one of the largest components of soil and quite heavy compared to silt or clay. In calm waters, sand will settle on the ocean floor.
But few oceans have calm water. The ocean ebbs and flows with the tide and waves constantly stir up sand on the ocean floor. Much like a washing machine, ocean water has all types of materials floating in it, and plenty of sand!
Beach Sand Is Made From a Number Of Organic Materials
The constant movement of ocean water gives it the ability to quickly wear down rocks, calcium, and other materials in the ocean. Therefore, sand is the result of broken down rock, shells, bone from sea creatures and even seaweed.
There is plenty material in the ocean that becomes sand but the ocean also wears down rocks and materials that it comes in contact with on the shore.
The color of beach sand is a direct result of the type of rock and minerals that exist in the area. That’s why beach sand can vary in color, size, and materials in different locations.
For example some beaches can be black (due to volcanic rock) and other beaches can be pink (due to pink color coral).
But What About Those Tractors I See At The Beach Dropping Off Sand
If you’ve been to any tourist beach you’ve probably noticed tractors working in the early morning to comb and level the sand. Occasionally you’ll even see trucks dropping off sand to refill lost sand.
Cities bring sand to their beaches because of the tourist industry. If they keep their beaches looking good the tourists will continue to come.
Beach sand is fun to play in and sleep on. It’s also great exercise for sports because it provides a natural cushion for our legs.
But have you ever really thought about where sand comes from? Does it just appear or is it natural.
As it turns out, beach sand is the result of 1000’s of years work. The sea slowly wears down rocks, shells, coral, and other minerals and deposits them on the shore where we can enjoy it. Depend on the minerals in the area, the color of beach sand will vary.
You can disregard those tractors on the tourist beaches. Sure they might be bringing in truckloads of sand but beaches are capable of making their own!