Tiny Bits of Quartz Make Florida’s Sand White
Many people flock to our town to check out one thing: the beautiful beaches. One of the best reasons for living in Pensacola is the fact that we live right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The beautiful waters of the Emerald Coast – our little bit of coast that stretches from Pensacola to Panama City – and the gorgeous white, sandy beaches that surround it. Aside from the beauty of the beaches and Instagram-worthy posts that can come from it – do you know why our beaches have white sand?
The stunning, white, almost glittery sand is the actually made up of tiny bits of quartz. The quartz came from the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years ago. It was from the rocks in the Appalachian Mountains that eroded. Most minerals were ground to dust, but quartz, being resilient, didn’t. So, the deposits that were brought down to the Gulf of Mexico were pretty much pure quartz. And, unlike other areas, the rivers that were providing our sand stopped bringing new deposits for years.
Did you know that the white beaches are actually part of the reason that the water looks emerald green?
While some believe that the water is the color is it because of the concentration of blue-green algae, it actually has a second reason. The blue-green color is caused by the light that shines on the water. How is the sand tied into this? The sunshine is reflecting off the shimmering quartz sand underneath the water. The combination of the blinding white sands and the crystal clarity of the water is what creates the gem-like quality. The water even goes through all the different hues that resemble green gems. Over time, the rivers that drained into the gulf became less and less. Thus, the Emerald Coast kept its hue.
Now you know why our beaches are the way they are. The bright, soft white sands that edge along the gem-like brilliance of the Emerald Coast makes us unique. Let’s keep our beaches beautiful and clean!