EVERY time you walk along the beach millions of grains of sand move beneath your feet.
At a glance it’s just sand, but when viewed through a microscope, you can see that the grains are actually colourful fragments of gem, coral, minerals and shells.
That’s because sand is the remnants of weathered rock and shelled creatures, broken down by waves and wind over hundreds of millions of years.
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Each individual grain has its own, amazing geographic and biological history. For instance, scientists have discovered that a grain of sand found in the Jack Hills in Western Australia is actually a tiny crystal of zircon and is 4.4 billion years old. To put that in perspective, it’s thought that the Earth itself is about 4.5 billion years old.
So who knows — the sand your find through your car after you visit the beach could have seen life on Earth evolve.
[signoff icon=”icon-username”]Naomi Edwards
Griffith environment graduate
Naomi Edwards holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science and a Master of International and Community Development. She is involved in coastal community mobilisation at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, and is a passionate advocate for Australia’s coast. Her current research is focused on beach happiness and coastal community knowledge with the School of Humanities, Griffith University.[/signoff]