Natural sand ripple patterns

Inch Strand is a wide beach on a sand spit that reaches out like a peninsula into the sea at right angles to the mainland on the South Coast of the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. We walked the entire five kilometres of dune-backed shore as the tide was receding. By the time we turned back from the tip of the spit, the ebbing sea had left behind acres and acres of wonderful patterns in the sand, in sculptural forms the like of which I have never seen before. I was totally captivated by these designs, looking as did like elaborate knitting or crochet stitching. Here are just a couple of examples of the patterns in the sand.

Don’t forget, you can click on any photograph to enlarge the image!

Natural sand ripple patterns

Natural sand ripple patterns

Natural sand ripple patterns

Natural sand ripple patterns

Natural sand ripple patterns

7 Replies to “Patterns in the Sand at Inch Strand”

  1. That is what I was thinking about some of the sand patterns. Funny that, because Arran sweaters are made just a little further up the coast from the location where I captured these images!

  2. I must look up the way that Inch Strand was formed. I think it is called a “tombolo” formation. It looks as if it is the same sort of geological feature as Dogs Bay in Connemara except that there is no island attached.

  3. Fascinating and beautiful. How do these structures form? Is it an effect of waves from different directions, because it is on the tip of a peninsula? Is this formed by waves or by streaming water, or both? In any case, fascinating.

  4. Hi, Nannus. These patterns were made by the waves on an ebbing tide. I think their complexity has at least something to do with being at the seaward end of a sand spit or bar. However, exactly what all the factors are that makes them so intricate is still a bit of a mystery to me but direction, speed, cross current, water depth, and sand particle size would all have something to do with it. There is quite a body of literature discussing the physics of sand ripple formation with which I have yet to grapple and understand for interpretation of these natural patterns.

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