Photo: Geologist Earl McBride
It turns out that the fighting on D-Day was so fierce that as much as 4% of the sand on Normandy beaches is magnetic shrapnel that has been broken down over the decades into sand-sized chunks. From BLDGBLOG, a paper in the upcoming issue of Archeology finds that the spherical metal shards are a significant portion of the beach’s composition.
In the photo to the right, see the smooth sphere? It’s got a diameter of around one-tenth of a millimetre judging by the legend. That’s 60-year-old shrapnel, sanded down to a smooth, microscopic ball.
Also fascinating is the fact that — within 150 years — the beach will lose most of this metallic memory to rust. The sand-size fragments of steel will also be wiped away by waves and storms.
For now, though, it’s still a poignant reminder of the immense loss of life and sacrifice that occurred there almost 70 years ago.
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