Need more words for sand

A point of interest I forgot to mention during my Long Beach posts: you know how the Eskimos supposedly have fifty trillion words for snow? We could use some more words for sand too. I encountered lots of different characters of sand at the beach, including one that was very novel to me (last in the list below).


Also lots of interesting sand shapes and patterns formed by the interaction of wind, waves and different weights of sand. I put together a collage of some of them in the picture above. Looking at some of the shapes sand can form, it’s really easy to believe there was once water flowing on the surface of Mars.

I found:

  • Soft, dry sand, often wind-blown into rills or small dunes.
  • Soft, dry sand under a crust of damp, hard-packed sand.
  • Fine sand so water-saturated it flows like a slurry.
  • Damp sand so hard-packed by the waves that it won’t accept footprints.
  • Semi-quick sand that seems solid when you walk on it, but stand still for a few seconds and you start to sink in.
  • A one to two inch thick layer of packed sand above an inch-thick layer of slurry, and more hard sand under that. Walking on it feels like walking on a thick rubber mat. I discovered its nature accidentally by leaning on my walking stick, only to have it suddenly drop after slowly sinking for a few seconds. The slurry underneath can instantly switch between fluid “water with sand in it” and solid “sand with water in it” states in response to pressure. I’ve never encountered this before, and it was fascinating.

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