frozen sand cliffs
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|frozen sand cliffs|
This post is another example of winter's unusual artistry. These formations reminded me a lot of some of the exotic rocks I've seen in the southern Utah desert, but are quite far from there in almost every way.
The background hints at the true nature of the subject. The top edge of the photo shows grasses on a sand dune, slightly above the storm high tide mark at a beach in my town. This rugged looking cliff is made up of beach sand which has been frozen, then eroded partly by waves and partly by a stream which drains a marshy area behind the dunes. The "cliff" is only about 30 cm high at the left front.
The base of the "cliff" is right at the spring high tide mark (daily range up to 3.5 m), so this part of the stream course changes often. Waves from even a modest storm can sweep away all the sand in the photo. Rain always increases the erosion due to stream flow, but in dry times the stream's water flows invisibly under the sand to the ocean. Sometimes calm dry weather and neap tides (daily range less than 2 m) can leave the sand unchanged for days.
In the summer this stream is often dammed by human beavers to create a pool of fresh water in which to play. This activity changes the appearance even more completely and more frequently than natural forces during the summer. But in winter, the humans keep their gloves and boots on and nature takes over. A break of a few days from waves, stream flow, and human intervention is what allowed these formations to occur. The overhangs are unique to winter, requiring that the sand start wet and stay frozen during the whole process.
A geologist friend told me that the red banding is actually due to tiny garnets. I don't know the history of their formation, but they are quite plentiful in some locations. There is even a spot 1 km away where the red is visible on Google Earth. At ground level the intense redness of the sand is rather startling. The dark color absorbs the winter sun efficiently, occasionally providing a warm treat for bare hands on an otherwise cold beach walk.
slightly increased total saturation, lots of contrast added, slight sharpening
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- [2009-03-07 10:26]
Extremely interesting document and a great image too! As you say, I first thought it was some giant cliff in Utah.
On the technical side, the photo appears very grainy (noisy) - more perhaps than the subject would imply ;) Perhaps too much contrast indeed in PP ?