Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Roughly elliptical

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Beach Sand Patterns 8298

If you thought I’d show only one set of patterns from the beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on June 17, you don’t know me well. Here’s another.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 6, 2016 at 4:35 AM

33 Responses

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  1. Not crop circle but sand circle. Mysterious.


    September 6, 2016 at 5:05 AM

    • Mysterious indeed, crafted by I know not what forces of nature. Thankfully the only tromping about I had to do was in walking along the beach in daylight, not surreptitiously pressing down grain in a field in the middle of the night.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2016 at 5:53 AM

  2. Well that is interesting.


    September 6, 2016 at 6:18 AM

    • Any idea what created it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2016 at 6:20 AM

      • Not really although I wondered if wind could do it, if the lay of the land funneled it into a circular path right there.


        September 6, 2016 at 6:21 AM

        • That’s certainly plausible. I wondered if an unusually strong wave had played any part before the wind did most of the rest.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 6, 2016 at 6:29 AM

          • It’s possible. Waves can do strange things on the shore. I wish you and Eve could have been there with us, too.


            September 6, 2016 at 6:40 AM

  3. Water’s clearly run over and away from the top of the sand. The pattern of waves and rivulets reminds me of your photos of algae waving in the water. But my favorite detail is the line of tracks meandering across the top of the little sand pile. It seems you weren’t the only explorer that day.


    September 6, 2016 at 6:50 AM

    • No, I wasn’t the only explorer. At one point while I was photographing this formation I noticed a couple walking straight toward me along the beach so I gestured and waved them around to keep them from messing up “my” patterns.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2016 at 6:59 AM

  4. Well done, Steven. Sometimes nature sets us up for just the right image.


    September 6, 2016 at 7:07 AM

  5. Quite an interesting pattern, Steve! One would never believe it’s natural. Are you sure it’s not an imprint left by aliens? 😉


    September 6, 2016 at 7:18 AM

  6. Nice of those folks to not walk across your model. Not everybody is as considerate or respectful of our natural treasures.

    Steve Gingold

    September 6, 2016 at 2:59 PM

    • Oh, I hadn’t heard about that. What a shame. We’ve been thinking about visiting Oregon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2016 at 4:38 PM

  7. The long term influence of what initiate as perturbations on a very small scale can have unexpected results. Once a chaotic system initiates movement in one particular direction … that direction is favored from that point on. This pattern could have been initiated by something as simple a the movement of a small cobble one way, rather than the other. Wash boarding of a country road is an example of just such a phenomenon.

    Pairodox Farm

    September 6, 2016 at 3:22 PM

  8. It would be interesting to know what created such an interesting pattern.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 7, 2016 at 12:34 AM

  9. My theory is that a high tide, or a minor rogue wave, created a pool in this small depression in the beach. As it sank slowly into the surrounding sand, the prevailing wind caused consistent waves in the pool. And then the water was slowly absorbed into the sand, but the wind continued, creating the wind-waves in the surface of first the water and then in the sand. This could be a common, frequent, or rare occurrence, depending on local conditions. Whichever it is, it’s lucky that you were there at the right time and were able to capture the moment.


    September 7, 2016 at 7:09 PM

    • That’s a detailed theory you’ve put forth. I’m in no position to weigh in on it factually, but it’s plausible. As for frequency, all I can say is that during my hours on several Lake Michigan beaches in Indiana and Illinois, this was the only formation like this that I saw. I wonder if geologists who’ve worked in that area know the origin of this type of formation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2016 at 8:36 PM

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