Dec. 01, 2011

Learning about Sand Dunes

by Coastal Studies for Girls

By Franchesca, Coastal Studies for Girls

This past weekend in Marine Science we went on a field trip to Reid State Park, a beautiful area of sandy beach, forest and rocky shore. Taking advantage of the beautiful day, we went to learn more about how beaches form and how they change over time. When we got there we were told to think about the question, “What are the patterns that you notice in the landscape?” We were then given several minutes to go out and study first hand what we saw in this beach.

When we came back together, we gave our answers of how there was a forest furthest inland, and then a salt marsh, then a sand dune in front of the beach. There were also answers describing the characteristics of the beach itself. We pointed out how the sand was a lot more large-grained compared to the sand we had seen at Popham Beach, a few miles south of Reid.

We then proceeded to the rocks and sat down for a Geology lesson from our Resident Assistant, Kit Hamley, who studied Geology at Bowdoin College. She explained to us how the sand was originally brought on to the beach by glaciers thousands of years ago. The glaciers emerged with a very strong force; they pushed out the sediment that was there to begin with, forming the beaches that we see today.

Sand dunes formed when something blocked the force of the winds from blowing the sand, which was the dune grass that grows on top of the dunes and which holds the sand in place. We learned how it is a big problem when people walk on the dune because it harms the habitat, encouraging wind erosion and destroying primary dunes. This in turn can negatively affect secondary dunes, where some species rare in Maine live. As we had first walked onto the beach a boardwalk led us onto it. These boardwalks were made for the sole reason of protecting the dunes, and therefore the beach.

In the end we took a few minutes to walk on the beach and look at the holes in the sand, made by an organism living inside the hole. We then went towards the dune and examined the root system of the dune grass whose roots remain, even if the dune grass is trampled upon.

For some of us it was a new experience to learn about sand dunes. It was an interesting sight to be able to see and to understand. Sand dunes are something historical in a way and they should be appreciated even more for that matter.

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Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls. CSG is dedicated to girls who have a love for learning and discovery, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to challenge themselves.

About Coastal Studies for Girls

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls.

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