No. 111: May-Jun 1997
Singing sands and booming dunes have aroused the curiosity of explorers and beachgoers for over a century. Sand Mountain, in Nevada, is noted for its energetic thunderings. (SF#47/214) Manchester, Massachusetts, has its "singing beach." (ESP14 in Anomalies in Geology) But, common as these "sonorous" sands are, the exact mechanism of sound production remains a mystery.
D.E Goldsack and colleagues, at Laurentian University, Canada, have reported some advances in our understanding of this classical anomaly.
Their conclusion is that for sand to sing the particles must be coated with naturally (or artificially) created silica gel.
(Goldsack, Douglas E., et al; "Natural and Artificial 'Singing' Sands," Nature, 386:29, 1997. Also: Cohen, Philip; "Desert Dunes Sing Silica's Song," New Scientist, p. 17, March 8, 1997.)
Comment. The fundamental mystery survives. Goldsack admits no insights as to exactly how muscial sands find their "voices."
The subject of musical sand is explored in considerable depth at ESP14 in Anomalies in Geology. Ordering information here.
|Locations of the more prominent musical sands and booming dunes. (Adapted from: Geological Society of America, Bulletin, 87:483, 1976).|