Menu Close

Articles on Sand

Displaying all articles

Shutterstock

One of Australia’s most famous beaches is disappearing, and storms aren’t to blame. So what’s the problem?

Over the past six months, tourists and locals have been shocked to see Byron's famous Main Beach literally disappearing. Satellite imagery and local knowledge has revealed what's going on.
A sand mine in Nepal. Growing urbanization and its need for concrete is fuelling a global sand crisis. (Michael Hoffmann)

Roving bandits and looted coastlines: How the global appetite for sand is fuelling a crisis

As sand markets boom, entrepreneurs, organized crime and others are cashing in — leaving widespread environmental damage in their wake.
This started as a mountain range. Bas Meelker/Shutterstock.com

Where does beach sand come from?

Sand may seem abundant when your toes are buried in it, but it's becoming scarce along many coastlines around the world.
A rock surface containing a circular pattern with a central depression. The scale bar = 10 cm. Images modified from: Helm, C.W.; Cawthra, H.C.; De Vynck, J.C.; Helm, C.J.; Rust, R.; Stear. W. Patterns in the Sand: A Pleistocene hominin signature along the South African coastline? Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association (2019)

Ancient humans may have made patterns and sculptures on South Africa’s beaches

Given that we know humans moved across these landscapes, we wondered whether there might also be evidence of other forms of human activity on these surfaces of sand.
Researchers studied reef sands at Heron Island, Hawaii, Bermuda and Tetiaroa. In this photo, white areas show the predominance of sand on reefs. Southern Cross University

Our acid oceans will dissolve coral reef sands within decades

Ocean acidification poses an increasing threat to the sediments that form the framework of coral reefs - within around 30 years, these carbonate sands may no longer be able to form.
Sand for use in hydraulic fracturing operations at a processing plant in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in 2011. AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

The world is facing a global sand crisis

Overuse of sand for construction and industry is harming the environment and fueling violence around the world. Scientists explain why we need international rules to regulate sand mining and use.

Top contributors

More