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June 02, 2011


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oh my, that is stunning ... I suppose that particular mixture of grain sizes, shapes, and compositions with the temperature, humidity, etc. is all perfect to create these patterns. Gorgeous.


They look like ice crystals. I wonder how they get the sand grains to march down the center to build a peak and slide down the sides like that.

Still loving your blog. It's always a treat.

My guess. I have seen similar formations on beaches in Baja California on the Sea of Cortez (though not as dramatic nor as vertical). At very low tide (which are extreme in the mid-northern part of the Sea), the remnant water slowly coursing out of the sand uphill carves the very low layers of sand and silt near the water's edge. This low layer has a lot more sediment in it, which enables the sand to form and preserve peaked structures that are being carved by the water passing over it. The structures do not dissolve as readily as they would if higher on the beach and composed of purer sand, or lower on the beach and subject to a wetter environment.

Note how these pictures seem to have a dry and finer layer of sand at the top, which overlays a wetter and firmer layer beneath. This layer seems to be carved from the action of something starting at the top of the picture. At the lower reaches, it seems to dissolve which suggests a much higher water content.

Of course, it could be something completely different, but I have seen something similar.

Interesting! Your observations have raised the question (which I certainly hadn't thought through)of whether these structures are constructional or "remnant." I used the term "sculptures" without thinking that there are two contrasting kinds of sculpture, positive and negative, the former, as in clay, where the sculpture is assembled, the latter, as in marble, where it is liberated. And, if these structures are liberated, they must have originally formed from some constructive process within the body of sand, from which they were subsequently revealed.

Hmmmm - makes you think, doesn't it?

Thanks for the stimulus!

Part of what makes me think this is a "liberated" structure are the little cups at the top which look like the uppermost stiff wall crumbled in a few places allowing fine dry sand to course down somewhat.

What I cannot figure is the process that creates such precise linearity in the sand in the first place. Even if a liberated structure, what is the process that made such parallel lines? - not a typical natural structure.

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