Two Geological Curiosities, Singing Sand & Odd Dunes

singing sand
Georgia has some oddly placed dunes as well as singing sand.

By Jim Miles

Singing Sand

When most sand is walked on, it makes no comment, but in a few rare locations sand being compressed emits a strange “singing’ sound which is more accurately described as the crushing of newly fallen snow, or wet fingers being drawn across plastic wrap.  Geologists say Georgia has four fine examples of this unusual phenomenon.

The most vocal of Georgia’s “singing sands” is found near Thundering Springs, eight miles east of Woodbury in Meriwether County.  The others are found near Groveland on sandbars in the Canoochee River, along the Ochlockonee River, and on the Alapaha River near Statenville.

Geologists continue to argue about what makes the sand sing.  All they know for certain is that most of it is found in sandbars along small rivers.  Some sand sings only when dry, some only when wet.  Georgia’s singing sand is a real mystery.  It sings both ways.

Sand Dunes

This isn’t about the beaches at Tybee or Jekyll, but sand dunes where you wouldn’t expect to find sand dunes, like the middle of the state.  Actually, we find lost sand dunes in southwest and southeast Georgia.

In the southwest is a thirty mile long stretch of fossil sand dunes which extend along the Flint River and peak just south of Albany.  Geologists believe they are one million years old and mark the northern edge of the Gulf of Mexico at that time.  The hills, 20 to 30 feet high, are composed of coarse, sharp, cream colored grains. The dunes make an interesting recreational area for some, but unfortunately much of the sand is being mined for construction.

The Ohoopee Dunes are found in the southeast, along the Ohoopee and Canoochee rivers near Gordonia Altamaha State Park.  These are small, prehistoric deserts which were located by scientists studying satellite photographs.  They noticed unusual oval shapes, one and a half miles by four and a half miles, along the east banks of the two streams.  Research indicates that the dunes were created in the Pleistocene era during a dry period when winds, blowing mainly from the west, picked up sand from the river beds and deposited it on the east banks of the rivers.  This part of the coastal plain was underwater for twenty million years during the Miocene era.

Today the sand hills are inhabited by gopher tortoises, which tunnel 35 feet into the dunes to build their homes.  The dunes resemble miniature deserts, where only small, twisted oak trees, tough shrubs, and lichens grow.  It is a unique flora,

From Weird Georgia (Cumberland House, 2000).

Jim Milesufossavannah is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at milesbooks@cox.net

 

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