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All We Are is Dust in the Wind

Or sand on the beach:

 

War Sand As much as 4% of sand on Normandy’s beach is made up of miniscule fragments of steel, the remnants of shrapnel from WWII’s D-Day. It’s a story that’s part geologic wonder, and part reminder of what will be left of our civilization when we’re gone.

 

War Sand: As much as 4% of sand on Normandy’s beach is made up of miniscule fragments of steel, the remnants of shrapnel from WWII’s D-Day. It’s a story that’s part geologic wonder, and part reminder of what will be left of our civilization when we’re gone.

That should make us very thoughtful, indeed.

 

Comments

  1. Trebuchet says

    Dana, I’m extremely skeptical of this one. There are probably many larger fragments of iron (and copper, and lead) but any sand-sized iron fragments have long since turned into iron oxide. And just how would they have gotten that small in the first place? I’m willing to accept 4% oxides of iron (maybe), but un-oxidized iron/steel? In sand-grain sizes? No way.

    If anyone has a source for this other than the itsokaytobesmart link, which provides no sources, I’d love to see it.

  2. says

    This is fascinating, and makes me wonder how many beaches around the world bear microscopic signs of human history. There’s a beach on Kaua’i that used to be near a dump or recycling centre (not sure exactly; no one seemed to know the story behind it very well) where much of the sand is now made of tiny bits of beach glass.

  3. Lithified Detritus says

    Very interesting. Like Trebuchet, I was initially skeptical. I figured that bits of steel in seawater would rust away pretty quickly, leaving little trace other than some rust staining of the sediments.

    The article linked by Trebuchet makes for some very interesting reading. There was a sentence though, that contained a word (plasering) that I don’t know & can’t find a definition for:

    Because of the potential plasering of shrapnel and heavy minerals by waves and currents on the day we collected our sample, we do not know how representative it is of the beach sand as a whole.

    I’m inferring from context that it has to do with sorting or rearrangement, as in placer mining, perhaps. Does anybody know this word?

  4. says

    I suspect the word *is* placering, which in this case just refers to the concentration of the heavy component (the shrapnel, etc) of the sand by wave and current action, increasing the heavy component in some areas, probably decreasing it in others.

  5. rq says

    This is fantastic stuff… I like all these close-ups of sand as is (did I send you a gorgeous one I found recently?), but this adds that nice little human-transience/history touch that… makes it personal, in a way. And stunning. Wow.