Posts Tagged ‘Beach’

purple sand

A lot of people wonder why the sand at Plum island is purple. When we went on the field trip that was the first thing i was thinking about. The sand contains Garnet grains which is what makes the sand purple. The name “garnet” comes from the word, “granatum,” which means “a pomegranite,” for the mineral’s resemblance to the red seeds of the pomegranite fruit. Garnet sand can be any colors from pink to red to even light orange. The garnet sand is only located in three places, Plum Island beach sands, Woodruff Pond sand in the Adirondack Mountains, and Woodruff pond.

Quartz, which is a mineral composed of silicon, is similar to Garnet sand and also causes sand to be purple. Quartz is a variety of clear colors, including white, rose, and purple. Quartz is known as one of the most common components and is a major reason why the sand is purple. Quartz is not in the sand at Plum Island but it is a another component other than Garnet, which is at Plumb Island, that causes sand to be purple.

Theres really only one reason that the sand is purple and that reason is that it contains Garnet grain in it which is not very common. This makes the sand purple because it is a pomegranet color causing the sand at Plum Island to be purple. The sand is very pretty and many think its really odd that its purple but it just contains a certain mineral that others dont.

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Sand is always moving. The beaches you might visit everyday are not perminent features. The shape and size of beaches change everyday on a small scale and somtimes drastically over a longer period of time. The changes occur becasue of various reasons but its always because of the sand moving.

In our Oceanography class we looked at different sand samples from around the United States under microscopes and noticed the many differences. Some of the differences are visable to the naked eye and some require the use of a microscope. Here is the list of traits we observed:

  • Color
  • Magnetite
  • Size
  • Texture
  • Wentworth Scale
  • Sorting
  • Composition

A few days after doing our observations we went on a field trip to our local beach. We looked at the sand closely but it did not look any different than the sand we were used to. Although the sand varys greatly around the world, it usually doesnt look very different when the beaches are close to each other. The drastic changes can only seen if one compares sand from different areas across the world. Here is a few examples of the diversity found in beach sand colors.





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First sited by Captain John Smith in the seventeenth-century, Massachusetts’ Plum Island serves as an eleven-mile stretch of tranquil peace. In 1621 a grant by the Plymouth Council for New England deeded Plum Island to then-governor Captain John Mason who never acted on the grant. Plum Island was part of a similar grant to Massachusetts Bay Colony but eventually, the General Court decided that it could not be loyal to the claim of ownership. The middle of the seventeenth-century was when the first known use of Plum Island was recorded. Around this time, it was used as a pasture for animals. Before it was an island, Captain John Smith described the vast land: “On the east is an Ile two or three leagues in length; the one halfe, plaine morish grasse fit for pasture, with many faire high groves of mulberrie trees gardens; and there is also Okes, Pines and other woods to make this place an excellent habitation, beeing a good and safe harbor.” In the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, Plum Island became a site for several hotels which drew much tourist attraction. In today’s twenty-first century, Plum Island is a famous vacation spot for tourists and it’s rich history serves as the cornerstones for its widespread popularity and vast beauty.


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Sand Descriptions

In our oceanography class one day we did a lab that envolved walking around the class and looking at sand. We would go to a station and look through the microscope and draw what we saw. Each different type of sand looked completely different.There are many different types of sand around the world. When people think of sand they thinkof soft and tan, but if you look at it up very close it isn’t just that. There are many different descriptions of sand. All over the world sand looks different. For example during class we walked around the room and looked at sand from different locations underneath a microscope. In Hawaii sand looks very different from places around here. The description of sand there is black sand. It is from the erosion of of volcanic rocks. Black Sand of Punalu’u Beach. In the bahamas sand is very different . It is made up of coral. Parrot fishes eat the coral sand. The term “coral” means limestone. Coral sand can have damaging environmental effects. In Niles Beach the sand looks like crystals. The colors are black, yellow and white. You would be surprised at how different sand really looks up close. By doing this lab i have learned many new things. One thing I have learned that sand isnt just soft and tan but if you look at it up close it has many different colors and textures. It varries in shapes and some pieces of sand are smooth and some are hard. Doing this lab was really interesting. jessica b

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Plum Island Adventures

Plum Island Adventures

On our field trip we went to Plum Island, and we saw certain glacial rocks that had been left behind near our school.  One of the glacial rocks that we saw is called Stickney’s boulder in Groveland MA. Then in Haverhill MA we visited this area where we saw certain rocks that have been left behind from centuries before.  Also in Haverhill MA we saw a rock that had striations which was from the glacier moving from north to south over the rock.

After we visited these certain rock areas we went to Plum Island where we studied the dunes and saw different effects that the ocean has on the beach.  We saw how the dunes were somewhat hilly showing how the wind blows the sand and forms new land masses.  Also from the dunes to the beach there was a sort of shelf that had different layers of sediment shown in it.  You could see the different colors in the sand and you could also see how there were different rocks shoved into the sand.  Also throughout the beach you could see there were darker areas in the sand showing where the high tide goes up to and how low the low tide is.

After looking at the different aspects of the beach we learned a lot about how the ocean affects the land.  You can see how the water can do major damage on some land but also see how different animals and plants need the ocean to survive.  We saw many birds that were taking things out of the ocean and we saw sea weed that had washed up on shore.  Some of the sea weed had holes in it showing that maybe an animal had eaten it.  Also on the shore there were different colors of sand, like purple and it is probably purple from the way the ocean brought it up from the ocean floor or maybe it is darker because of how the sun hits it.  We learned that there were many aspects of the ocean and not just sand and water.






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Dynamic Coast

Since I did not go on the field trip, I did the assignment in class. During that class I learned about how dynamic and fragile the coastline is. When met with the choice of building near beaches, public officials must decide whether they want to make a lot of money or whether they want to preserve the coastal environment. A lot of the time, both situations occur. People usually make a lot of money by building homes and resorts near beaches, without the buildings impacting the ocean environment significantly. But there are also the extremes of situations involving coastal development. State parks can reserve coastlines with no development. On the other hand, officials can sway the argument in the other direction; destroying the coastal ecosystem in exchange for the large sums of cash that come from coastal development.

Another interesting thing I learned was how humans and organisms have to share the beach. This means humans must stay out of the way of endangered coastal creatures, such as turtles and birds. A good example of this is Plum Island in Newburyport, right down the road from us. There are nesting areas for the Piping Plover birds on Plum Island. In an effort to ensure their safety, a large percentage of the beach is closed to humans year round. People have their little area of the beach to frolic during the summer months and the birds have their natural habitat to live in, without interference by people.

Overall, I have learned that we must protect and take care of coastal areas if we are to enjoy them. I love the beach and am at the beach many times every week during the summer surfing. I picked up surfing about 6 years ago and it has taught me the importance of not damaging our environment. I always see beach cleanups going on and it makes me happy that other people want to keep the beach clean too. Garbage on the beach is bad for the sea critters, people, and coastal landscape.


Oceanography, 10/11/11

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On Friday’s field trip to Plum Island in Ms. McCarron’s class students engaged in activities that enforced what we have been learning in class.  One of the most significant activities was the one in which we demonstrated our understanding in coastal dynamics.  Students were required to identify a beach profile and identify as many structures on the beach as they could.  Things such as one would find on a beach site.  We also created our own beach profile.  We included things such as the berm, berm crest, beach scarp, dune, beach backshore, beach foreshore, beach offshore, low tide terrace, long shore trough, long shore bar and dune vegetation.   The foreshore is the mark from the low to high tide mark.  The backshore includes dunes and grasses.  Spits are when a long shore current turns into the calm water of the bay.  The tombolo’s that extend between two islands.  We previously learned all of these things in class.

My group was able to identify most of these structures at Plum Island and we also measured the beach backshore and foreshore.  Once we were done with this we identified the other elements of coastal dynamics.  These were terms that we had previously learned about in class.  Things such as groins, jetties and seawalls.  Groins create a protected area from long shore current.  Jetties are the same thing but they are built to reinforce a harbor entrance.  Seawalls act as a barrier to block the waves from eroding the land.  By previously learning these things in class it had helped us utilize the trip to Plum Island as a learning experience.

Before going on the field trip we spent a lot of time reading and identifying these different ocean structures.  Many of the readings and lectures that we have been focusing on during class and that we have done for homework have focused on the many different structures and formations on the beach.  The trip did a very nice job in reviewing what we have learned about over the last few weeks.  It also gave us the opportunity to see the structures in person and get a good idea of their importance to the beach.


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In class we have observed many different sands from different beaches all over the world. Usually when people observe sand they never describe and draw it in good detail. They just draw it in little blobs of rocks that show no detail, which is wrong. Sand actually has alot of detail and each little pebble is different from all others. Each beach has different sands and the characteristics of each are different.

Sand can be placed into different group by shape,size,color,texture and sorting. But before identifying which group sand can be placed in, you have to observe it and draw little samples. In some of the sand there are little particles from organisms that are decomposed in the sand. Some pieces of sand are large and some can be miniscule. One may be able to see detail without at microscope, but to get great detail it is useful to use a microscope. To compare sand you should compare the size, color, shape,texture and sorting.

After you observe and draw out in great detail of the sand you can now compare it in a chart. You measure the size of the sand with the Wentworth Scale. In class we used graph paper and seperated the island sands into certain groups by there size. Then we looked at the shapes of the pebbles and see if they could be resembled by the specific shape groups. The texture of the pebbles was next and we categorized them in groups too see if they were smooth,rough,and coarse.

Some beaches that we studyed were the Bahamas,Grand Isle LA, Mt.  Desert Beach in Maine, Virgin Gorda, and The Key West. I never knew until now that sand could be so unigue in many different ways. Each has there own characteristics and they are all very different from eachother. I did not go on the field trip but I know that you guys looked at the sand on Plumb Island that is purple. I thought this activity was very interseting and I learned a lot of new things about the sand.

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