Why’s Whitehaven Beach so damn beautiful?

It’s Australia’s number one beach with stunning white sand and beautiful blue water, but ever wondered WHY that sand is so white?  

Well maybe not, but it’s a pretty cool story, one that had geologists stumped for a number of years, so here it goes…

That soft brilliant white sand which makes your feet squeak on is made from quartz, and can only be found at Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. No other island; out of the 74 islands that are dotted within the Whitsundays have this same kind of sand, making Whitehaven Beach pretty special!

Unravelling the mystery

At first geologists thought that the quartz, a by-product formed from a volcanic eruption was the cause. And fair enough to, because there was a HUGE eruption 95 to 132 million years ago, which formed all the Whitsunday Islands. But when they examined the rock formations of the islands, there was very little quartz. So back to the drawing board they went..

To only 12,000 years ago… when most of the world was locked up in ice (we’ve all seen Ice Age so know what it was like) and the interior of Queensland, Australia had lots of exposed granite. As the granite weathered and broke down to quartz, it formed SAND, but was still stuck in the middle of Queensland.

As the ice melted, sea levels rose shifting that 99% quartz sand from the interior to the coast! Of course this was a slow process, taking roughly 4000 years (imagine how many letters from the Queen you would receive)!

 And then Mother Nature had something else in store – A long shore drift (a what you might ask?). This is when strong currents move along the shore like a conveyor belt for sand, delivering huge amounts of sediment to form beaches on some lucky little islands and for us, it was on Whitsunday Island and formed Whitehaven Beach with that beautiful white quartz sand!

Mystery solved for you to enjoy!

 

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