MBS senior Kim Magnotta ’21 recently created a book of her sand grain photographs as a final project for her Independent Study which explored the geological origins and beauty of sand around the world.
Over the course of the past few years, Kim has been photographing and analyzing sand samples from around the world, and for her book she collected samples from as far away as Hawaii, Israel, France, Oregon, and the Bahamas. “This passion grew out of my interest in snowflake photography, which was limited to a short period of exploration,” she explained. “ I quickly realized that not all sand samples are the same, and that there are many geologic environments in which they form.”
Working on the Independent Study with faculty member Brad Turner has allowed Kim to learn more about the geological origins of sand. As a result of this study, she learned that the processes of erosion have greatly contributed to the formation of sand grains. She also discovered that quartz sand tends to be a “mainstay” item within varying sand samples. “I appreciate that this project has allowed an exploration of the reasoning behind the locations of particular grains of sand,” she said.
In addition to learning about the specific geological processes that sand has undergone, this project has also taught her to appreciate the beauty of nature. “Looking at sand under a micro lens allows one to understand what is happening ‘beneath their feet,’” she said. “ I truly developed a passion for this unique type of photography, and this project continues to evolve with my interests.”
Last December, she presented her independent research as part of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) virtual Fall Meeting. She also presented a poster about her snowflake and sand grain photography as part of the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Boston.