For ninety minutes out of Halifax you see only sea and sky. Then comes your first view of Sable Island - a golden arc in the blue Atlantic. Approaching for landing on the beach, you can make out sand dunes rising from sandy plains. On the beach, the soft ripples seem to go on forever. After a windy day here, your shoes, your teeth and your hair will be gritty with sand.
For ninety minutes out of Halifax you see only sea and sky. Then comes your first view of Sable Island - a golden arc in the blue Atlantic. Approaching for landing on the beach, you can make out sand dunes rising from sandy plains. On the beach, the soft ripples seem to go on forever. After a windy day here, your shoes, your teeth and your hair will be gritty with sand.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

View from airplane

For ninety minutes out of Halifax you see only sea and sky.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


golden arc

Then comes your first view of Sable Island - a golden arc in the blue Atlantic.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


dunes and sandy plains

Approaching for landing on the beach, you can make out sand dunes rising from sandy plains.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Soft ripples

On the beach, the soft ripples seem to go on forever.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Sable sand grains are small and rounded, and made of hard minerals. More than 90% are quartz. These are clues to the age of the sand. Because quartz is the hardest and most stable of common minerals, sand with a high percentage of quartz must be very old.

Sable Island sand comes from glacial till — piles of boulders, sand and clay left on the ocean banks by melting glaciers about 19,000 years ago.

Sable sand grains are small and rounded, and made of hard minerals. More than 90% are quartz. These are clues to the age of the sand. Because quartz is the hardest and most stable of common minerals, sand with a high percentage of quartz must be very old.

Sable Island sand comes from glacial till — piles of boulders, sand and clay left on the ocean banks by melting glaciers about 19,000 years ago.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

Sable Island Sand

Sable Island sand, magnified 50 times

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


You could bury a ten-story apartment building in Sable Island. The nearest solid rock base (bedrock) is about 40 metres (125 feet) straight down.
You could bury a ten-story apartment building in Sable Island. The nearest solid rock base (bedrock) is about 40 metres (125 feet) straight down.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.

A Mountain of Sand

A Mountain of Sand

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001 All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Understand that Sable Island is made from sand.
  • Describe the composition of sand on Sable Island.

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