Black sand properties in beach-dune system, Patea Beach, North Island, New Zealand

Maciej Dłużewski, Mike Hilton, Andrzej Muszyński, Joanna Rotnicka, Barbara Woronko


The study focuses on sand grain properties in different parts of a beach-dune system built entirely of heavy mineral particles. These properties are related to: (1) resistance of particular minerals to weathering and abrasion, (2) hydraulic sorting in the swash zone, and (3) aeolian sorting during grain transport inland from the upper beach. The main waterlain and windlain sand properties depend on settling velocity which results from grain density (reflecting grain mineralogy), size, shape and roundness. The study was performed on the beach and dunes at Patea on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, which are comprised of heavy minerals assemblage containing a ferromagnetic (dominated by titanomagnetite) and non-ferromagnetic (mainly pyroxene and amphibole) fractions. The result demonstrates that three zones of different sand properties can be distinguished: (1) a lower swash zone dominated by non-ferromagnetic, larger and more angular particles which are carried back from the upper swash zone down the foreshore by the backwash; (2) an uppermost swash zone and beach with almost 100% of ferromagnetic, smaller and more rounded particles deposited at the back of the beach by the uprush, which during high tide and storms can reach the cliff toe, and can be reworked by wind; and (3) a climbing dune composed of a more poorly sorted mixture of non- and ferromagnetic particles. In terms of both mineralogy and grain size and shape, the dune sand is less uniform than the beach sand. Aeolian segregation resulted here in sand textural features opposite to those found in dune sands composed of light minerals. The results highlight the density-dependent variability of grain size and shape of beach-dune deposits consisting of only heavy minerals, and broaden our understanding of mechanisms of sedimentary processes which is particularly important when reconstructing older sedimentary successions.


titanomagnetite; black sand; beach-dune deposits; grain size distribution; grain shape and microtexture; aeolian sorting

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