Coastwide
An open sand and gravel mine in Germany / Picture-Alliance ZB/P. Forster

Audio fingerprinting: The secrets of sand begin to emerge

Sand on beach may look all the same, but it's not. Researchers have found that the material has a "sound," one that can be linked to its home. Find the source, and we can learn more about how it moves around the world.

Say you're at the beach. Among the cacophony of sounds, like people enjoying the sun and the ocean, it turns out the sand is humming quietly in the background too. And the sound it makes reveals where it comes from.

That's according to a recent study carried out by Saskia van Ruth and her team at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Van Ruth and her team used a process called Broad Acoustic Resonance Dissolution Spectroscopy analysis (BARDS).

They put sand into an acidic solution to release calcium carbonates. The calcium carbonates released unique patterns of CO2 gas, which were the sound of the sand.

Sparks of optimism

Singing sand may not be ready to top the charts, but it sparks optimism in those working to bring attention to the environmental and ecological implications of sand extraction. If we can trace sand, we can have a clearer picture of how it moves around the world.

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