Credit: Mark A. Wilson, Department of Geology, The College of Wooster
License: CC BY-NC 3.0
Along Pismo Beach in California the sand contains translucent grains of quartz. There is also chert, igneous rock and shell fragments.
Why It Matters
- Many beaches are made mostly of quartz sand. Other beaches are made of materials that are found nearby, other minerals or even shell fragments.
- The materials found on a beach depend on what is nearby and what is brought in by streams.
- The energy of the environment matters: If the energy is high, softer materials will wear away; if the energy is low, more materials survive.
- The energy of water and of the particle striking the ground or other particles rounds the edges of grains.
With the links below, learn more about sand. Then answer the following questions.
- Minute Earth, Why is All Sand the Same? (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxmHHoTPSKI
- The New York Times, The World, Grain by Grain (map and text): http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/01/05/science/06sandmap.html
- How do different types of minerals form from an igneous magma?
- Why does the mineral quartz survive when other the other minerals that form in an igneous intrusive rock weather away?
- What are two reasons that might explain why the grains of sand that are found on a beach are of fairly uniform size and may be rounded?
- What is the size of sediments left by a stream from high upstream to downstream to a beach and even to offshore regions?
- On the map, there are two sands pictured from Hawaii (the two cameras on the left side of the map above the equator). Olivine is a high temperature mineral. Why is there olivine sand on the beach but no quartz sand?