Rivers and streams are important sources for the sand collector and are often overlooked in favour of the more obvious sand found at beaches and dunes. But rivers should not be overlooked as they can provide a variety of sand types that can be easily collected. They can also provide different colours of sand to those normally found at the coast.
When looking for sand at rivers and streams, there are generally three places to look – the bed of the river, the banks of the river and the river’s flood plain, if it has one.
When searching the bed of a river for sand, one of the best places to look is where the flow of the river slows down at bends or meanders. This is where sediment will be deposited and a range of different grades of sand often accumulate. Gravel beds are also worth investigating, although these are annoyingly often found in mid-stream.
The banks of a river are good places to seek sand samples. River banks form either from erosion of the surrounding land or by deposition of sediments dropped by the river during floods. You can often find thin layers or beds of sand along river banks, even those that seem to be comprised wholly of gravel or boulder clay.
The flood plain of a river is the wide flat area of land situated along one or both sides of the river. It usually forms over long periods of time as the river drops it load of sand and sediment when flooding occurs. These flood plains can be quite extensive and it’s often worth following smaller side streams away from the main river, looking for areas when the stream has cut down into the flood plain. Even animal burrows are worth a look.
Of course it goes without saying that you need to exercise some care when prospecting for sand alongside rivers. Don’t take un-necessary risks to reach a sand bank, no sample of sand is worth drowning for. Sandy river banks are also places where care is required, as they can sometimes be unstable and may collapse under your weight.
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