Some sand can be appreciated purely for its color and appearance. Other times the shapes of the grains or the overall texture of the sand makes it stand out when compared to others. Of course, a unique geology or an unusual mineral component can help to distinguish a sand also. Occasionally a beach comes along where the sand displays all three attributes. I consider the phosphatic sands from Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida to be such a sand.
Wayne County has over 35 miles of shoreline on Lake Ontario, the easternmost of the five North American Great Lakes. Most of us have favorite beaches along the lake for hiking and for rock collecting. Others seek the solitude of a kayak trip on a warm summer day. From a safe distance, we watch Mother Nature beat up the coastline each winter and patiently wait for spring and new adventures. Of course, we’ve also been known to trek west and visit some of those other large lakes.
Sure we all know the Great Lakes are large and very deep and we know they were carved out by glacial action just a bit more than 10,000 years ago. But I wonder if we truly appreciate just how large and how big these lakes are? And just how much water they contain. With a bit of time on my hands when I was not traveling as I would have liked, I thought I’d try to compile some of the numbers and put our little backyard pond into proper perspective. Continue reading That’s a Lotta Water
My only “sand” sample of kaolinite, shown in the title box above, is gray. It is from a kaolin quarry in Gordon, Georgia and came to me courtesy of a mail trade with the Georgia Mineralogy Society. The kaolinite in central Georgia is Late Cretaceous in age (~70 million years old) and is sedimentary in origin, derived from the weathering of igneous rocks. This region across Georgia may be better known to fossil collectors seeking terrestrial mammal bones and teeth from the overlying Eocene Formations (Rhinehart, et. al. 2019).
While I was piling up steps on my Health App, I was also thinking about all those good sands I was missing by not traveling about the northeast (or even beyond). And one fine day, I decided to drop into a small creek that crosses East Ave just north of Pittsford and sample sand that was visible through all the new growth. I knew it would not be spectacular, but it did look like a nice sand bar had developed just off the road where the creek made a sharp jog. And heck, why not?
It has now been almost a year since I started actively collecting and trading sand. I collected somewhere near 100 different sands last summer and fall during mineral trips or on day outings around western New York. And during the winter I have traded some of those for others. I think my total count exceeded 750 earlier this month when trade packages arrived from Maryland and California.
With that backdrop, imagine my surprise last January when my wife dug out three peanut butter jars from the corner of the garage labeled “Monahans Sandhills, 1995”. They were full of tan quartz-dominated sand! She had collected the quartz-rich sand when we had lived in Midland, Texas, some 50 miles to the east. She had earmarked them for our three sons and pretty much forgotten them (the sands, not our sons!).