Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Beach Sand of the Gulf of Mexico under Polarized Light Microscope

Siesta Beach is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. At the "Great International White Sand Beach Challenge" held in 1987, it was recognized as having the "whitest and finest sand in the world."  The sand is so reflective that it feels cool underfoot even on the hottest days. What's the reason? Siesta Beach's sand consists of 99% quartz.
Quartz possess birefringent property which can be examined under polarized light microscope. It can provide an important clue for mineral identification.  The pictures below are the sand collected from the camping trip alone the Gulf of Mexico.  
Siesta beach sand at 20x under polarized light microscope.  The size of the
sands are small and uniform.  Under polarized light microscope, they exhibit
various colors due to different thickness and orientation.


Siesta beach sand at 50x under polarized light microscope

Crescent beach sand at 20x under polarized light microscope.  Like the
sands collected from Siesta beach.  The sizes of the sand crystal are small
and uniform.

Turtle beach sand at 20x

Sand collected from Henderson Beach, FL

Sand collected from Gulf State Park, AL

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