Exploring the beach for various treasures has always been a favorite pass time of mine. When I was 11, I found a strange rock with a large hole in the center. Unsure of what this was, I started to do my research!
Beach rocks are a subcategory of stones found in the ocean, shore, and tidepools. The sea polishes rocks through the natural process of tumbling in the sand and salt. This makes these stones a prized possession among rock hunters, who are famous for their colors and shiny appearance.
What’s the best place to find these rocks? How can you correctly identify them? Learn all these things and more!
What Types Of Rocks Can Be Found On The Beach?
You can find almost any variety of stones on the beach, but their appearance will be different. The ocean is a lot like a massive rock tumbler. The constant tossing, plunging, and crashing of these rocks and crystals endure leaves their appearance very different.
Beach rocks are distinctive from ordinary stones because of their smooth exterior. Like polished rocks from a rock tumbler, the ocean water, and sand work together to polish beach rocks.
The most common minerals found on the beach are salt and sand. But what exactly are salt and sand?
According to NOAA, ocean water and salt comprise thousands of microbes, minerals, and chemicals. These elements contain large amounts of magnesium and sulfate, which makes up 10% of the ocean water.
These elements impact the various lifeforms and stones cascading the ocean’s floor. Therefore, no matter the type of rock or crystal you discover on the beach, they probably contain these elements.
Aside from these many minerals and microbiology, the most common rock types found on the beach include:
- Sedimentary rocks
- Igneous rocks
- Metamorphic rocks
- Hag stones and Petrified wood
1. Sedimentary Rocks
Sedimentary rocks are formed on or near the surface of the Earth. This sets this rock variety apart from the other two common types of rocks, igneous and sedimentary.
These rock types need the ocean or other large quantities of water to form. The term “sediment” refers to the number of loose materials that must come together and become a compact rock. Some common ways to distinguish these rocks are the unique ways different stones join together.
The sand, shale, and other loose materials compress under pressure with smaller rocks. There are two types of sedimentary rocks, which include the following:
Detrital sedimentary rocks form when larger rocks break down due to erosion from wind, water, or both. Chemical sedimentary rocks form under more intense pressure as small particles are pushed together.
Limestone and stalagmites are good examples of chemical sedimentary rocks. Detrital rocks are made from broken-down shale and sand, which becomes pressed together with other rocks.
2. Hag Stones, Witch Stones, and Petrified Wood
Hag stones, witch stones, or adder stones are mysterious-looking grey, brown, or black stones. Their notable feature is their singular hole punctured through the center or edges of the rock.
According to Pliny the Elder, these rocks were a favorite among the Celts in Gaul. They believed they were made from snakes or adder poison that was collected and hardened.
However, these rocks can be made from various stones that endure prolonged exposure to water erosion. However, flint is the most common material of which these rocks are made.
As they float about the ocean or sit in pools of water, dripping or flowing water cuts a hole through them. These holes are, therefore, naturally occurring and probably take thousands of years to form.
Petrified wood is a stunning example of the calcification process. As wood decays, it becomes replaced with rocks and minerals. Over time, the wood is completely replaced with stone and minerals while the wood’s original form is preserved.
3. Igneous Rocks
Igneous rocks are vulcanic rocks that harden when cooled to form various types of stones. Igneous rocks come in two varieties, which include:
- Intrusive igneous rocks
- Extrusive igneous rocks
Intrusive igneous rocks form under the ground from lava and magma. As these substances rise to the surface, the slow cooling allows the magma and lava to cool into large rocks. These rocks are usually very hard since they do not cool suddenly.
Extrusive rocks form as magma and lava pool on the Earth’s surface. The sudden cooling process means these rocks are composed of relatively small crystal grains. This process creates lightweight stones, such as pumice.
4. Metamorphic Rocks
Metamorphic rocks are some of the hardest varieties of rocks we discussed in this article today. This is due to the rock’s long history of formation, including several melting and cooling periods.
These constant shifts in composition not only make these rocks hard but also colorful and beautiful. Some common metamorphic rock forms include quartz and marble, which have rich color bands and are usually translucent.
What’s the Best Way to Find Different Rocks on the Beach?
Beaches host a large variety of rocks either within their depths or along the shoreline. Tide pools are a great option if you’re searching for rocks and minerals along the shore. These are small pools that form near jetties and other outcrops of rocks near the ocean tide.
Although you can find rocks almost anywhere, tidepools are an excellent source of natural treasures. Small crawfish, starfish, and shellfish tend to congregate here, and stones also get trapped here.
As the ocean’s tides pull in and out, they leave behind new articles in these small deposits. Thanks to these constantly shifting tides, new items are always made available.
Last, these are also the safest places aside from the beach to search for new treasures. While swimming and diving are exciting ways to find new rocks and crystals, they’re more dangerous.
How To Identify Different Rocks and Crystals on the Beach?
The ocean is an intense environment for stones. Identifying different rocks, minerals, and crystals on the beach can be difficult. After hundreds, thousands, or millions of years in the sea, the appearance of familiar stones is altered significantly.
Ocean rocks, minerals, and crystals usually have smooth surfaces due to the constant tumbling in the ocean. The sand, salt, and water make these rocks smooth, polished surfaces.
Quartz crystal is the most commonly found rock. The best way to determine if you’ve discovered quartz is to check the following:
Quartz crystals have many colors, which include white, orange, green, and purple. If your crystal is translucent, colorful, and hard, it’s probably quartz.
Petrified wood resembles small pieces of wood that have hardened to rock. If your rock looks remarkably similar to a chunk of wood, there’s a good chance it once was a piece of wood!
If you’re at a loss for determining the type of rock you’ve found, utilize Moh’s hardness scale. This scale will help you discover your stones’ overall hardness and resistance. This will narrow down the likely designation.
The beach is an adventurous and exciting place to go treasure hunting. It would be best if you were careful to avoid rip tides while wading in the ocean. These powerful currents come out of seemingly nowhere and are not usually visible on the surface.
I recommend exploring tidepools and combing the shoreline. This is the best way to start your exploration and avoid any potential dangers.
Etsy has some great, authentic beach rocks for anyone without access to the shore. However, if you ever have the chance, definitely explore for yourself!