Exploring the Science and Beauty of Sand
St Paul Beach, Reunion Island, France
The volcanic island of Reunion sits east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. It is a land of contrasts and includes pristine beaches with offshore reefs, the active volcano Piton de la Fournaise and lush mountain terrain in between.
In this sand, the black basalt grains and crystals of green olivine reflect the island’s volcanic origins. The bits that reflect life on the reef include the creamy-tan weathered remains of coralline algae and the bivalve shells, at center, plus the glassy white triangular and rod-shaped shards near 1 o’clock. The brown rod is a sea urchin spine; other small urchin spine fragments show dark and lighter concentric bands. The lavender rod at 5 o’clock reveals the spine’s internal structure. The highly-polished grains suggests a high wave-energy environment.