Beach Sanding, Sand Bars, and Tides

metal detecting beachesThis picture shows what was the shoreline, a cut full of water and then the first sandbar. In the picture it is easy to see that the first sandbar is washed down considerably while the sand was moved back near the shore to fill in the cut to make one broad shoreline. The gold is buried about three feet deep or more under the deep sand!
I have wondered for a good while how the beach gets sanded up and just how the tides and winds do their work. This year I learned at least one part of the mystery. It seems that it depends on the lower tides of the spring. Off my beach detecting spot there are sand bars that might be as wide as 30 feet or so and as you go deeper in the water you notice that there will be a cut and then a sand bar, another cut somewhat deeper and then another sandbar that is a couple feet deeper than the first one. On and on it goes out into the deep water. At the time of year that we get the spring low minus tides the first bar gets exposed to the air. The low tides may uncover the bar for six or seven evenings and each time it appears radically different but most folks never notice.
It is the tallest on the first evening that it rises out of the sea. As the sea sweeps across it the current carries away some of the sand on the bar into the cut behind the bar. This gradually gets more evident because after a week of this activity the sand bar cannot be seen because from the shore outward there is a slightly sloping layer of sand. It has filled in the first cut very high. Maybe three feet higher than it was to start with. Many of the gold rings are now covered so deep that they will unavailable for any metal detector until the sand is removed once again.beach sanding and detecting

As the low tide nears its peak the waves wash onto the second sand bar and it’s sand is moved back into the cut on the shore side. All of the gold is covered so deep that it cannot be dug until things change.
Now go back to one of my previous articles and remember how the equinox effects the sea. At the equinox in the fall of the year the high tides return for several months and removes the sand in the cuts between the sand bars and rebuild the bars. It does so by a strong lateral current along the beach that strips the sand out of the cuts where the current runs. Then as the sand is redeposited on the bars some gold is available once more.
This year I learned something else about when to hunt. I have always loved my beach when the wind calmed and the water cleared because it was easier and nicer to water hunt then. It took me some time before I realized that there was nothing to find! Once the sand falls out of solution then it builds up on the bottom and you can’t reach the gold. This summer we had a strong high pressure over Texas and it stilled the winds while the temperature soared well above 100 and we experienced a severe drought. That stilled the water too and there was nothing left to find in the middle of the summer. Gold could be found up to the time of the spring low tides and then you were lucky to find anything after that.
The fall equinox will begin to change the beach radically once more and the tides will be so high that finding anything will be very difficult but the gold will be in the water once more. After that you will have to look for abnormal weather effects that can temporarily push the water out so you can get some gold. There is so very much to learn about the beach before you can really find gold that it could take many years to become a true beachman worthy of your salt!

 

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