The debris that makes up the beautiful sand

MUSCAT: It is just one little picture, yet… there is so much to see that tells whatever story you wish of it. The flotsam and jetsam, the discarded, unwanted, un-needed, the lost, and the lonely. These shells, stones, bones, corals, and such will one day become the sand between someone’s toes, a playground for creatures of the land, sea, and sky, immensely attractive, starkly, and ruggedly beautiful. Even now a riot of mostly earthy, natural, pastel shades, an eau naturel version of ‘Where’s Wally.’

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Collected debris of the sea such as this is the greatest contributor to the sands of the beautiful Omani coastline with shells, corals, sea urchin spines, sponges, the exoskeletons of dead sea animals and fossils worn down to become the soft, sandy beaches that grace our shores. It is not only the sea however that creates sand, as much of its local composition consists of wadi fallen and washed rocks, and windblown, and rain-washed miniscule rocks washed to the shore from the mountain heights.

Geologist Jon Erikson estimates some three billion tons of rock is dissolved in water, and carried by streams, wadis and rivers to the sea each year to be washed as sand, with another 25 billion tons of heavier rock washed deeper, part of a much longer process. However there is no need for alarm, as Erikson writes we can understand the pace of the process, known as the and in fact all geological change, if we consider that “This is sufficient to lower the entire land surface area of the Earth by as much as an inch, in only 2000 years.”

The ubiquitous action of the sea also plays its part, with its relentless crushing of the many different components, silica in the context of quartz being strong, and with reduced chemical activity a key element of the sparkling, lightly jeweled grains of sand that catch and reflect light so pleasantly here in Oman. In other parts of the world the local geological features ‘color’ the beaches through iron, for black sand, basalt for green sand, and calcium carbonate for white sand, iron oxide for red sand, and golden sand having a greater content of animal matter, and sandstone base has that color we all know so well.

It is believed in the South Sea Islands that you can wash the sand from your hands, but not from your soul, and here in the Sultanate we have it all, blue skies, a gentle breeze, gentle waves, salt air, golden sun, and that gorgeous, golden sand between your toes. How good is that?