Getting Your Phil: For our ultra-fine sand, we thank our neighbors to the north

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By Phil Colpas

As someone who has lived on Siesta Key and in Sarasota since 1980, and occasionally written about the area, I know a little something about the island’s history. But this one is new to me.

According to Dr. Philip Farrell and Thomas Philip Farrell in their 2018 book, “An Illustrated History of Siesta Key: The Story of America’s Best Beach,” our much-touted, powder-fine, quartz crystal beach sand is — gasp — not from here.

“Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Florida’s famous beaches in general, and the Gulf Coast barrier islands in particular, is that the sand is not indigenous,” Farrell wrote. “Not long after the Appalachian Mountain range was created, it began to experience inexorable erosion through chemical and physical weathering, reducing the chain’s peaks from as high 25,000 feet to their present maximum height of 6,684 feet, and generally much lower.”

The igneous and sedimentary rock comprising the Appalachians are some of the hardest and most durable minerals on Earth. Abundant rainfall led to huge rivers transporting an enormous volume of quartz-rich sediment being transported over a period of more than 100 million years to the Atlantic Shore through the Georgia Seaway Channel.

“That long-term process filled that ancient rift to create a land bridge, Southern Georgia coastal plain and eventually carried the settlement to Florida beginning about 15 million years ago,” Farrell wrote. Sediment was transported by the 167-mile-long Apalachicola River and other rivers, bringing the sand to the Florida Panhandle, Florida platform, and ultimately to the barrier islands.

This begs a question: If our world-famous beach sand is really from the Appalachians, does this make us mountain people?

The book is chock full of Siesta Key history and photographs, and features a foreword by Sarasota County historian Jeff LaHurd.

“An Illustrated History of Siesta Key: The Story of America’s Best Beach” is available for purchase on the key at Crescent Beach Grocery, Davidson Drugs stores and Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar gift shop.

Catch Dana Lawrence from Kettle of Fish solo at SKOB every Thursday

Siesta Village has long offered a good variety of music at its various eateries and bars. Kettle of Fish frontman Dana Lawrence’s solo show, which runs from 2 to 6 p.m. each Thursday at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB), is a nice addition to the island’s musical landscape. Moreover, the full Kettle of Fish band performs every Wednesday from 7 to 11 p.m. at SKOB.

Since Kettle of Fish formed in 2001, Lawrence has been front and center as bandleader, singer and principal songwriter.

Their music is a great mix of blues, rock, soul, funk and R&B, including original compositions and cover tunes from the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Otis Redding, Robert Cray, the Neville Brothers, Buddy Guy, Stevie Wonder, the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and more.

Current Kettle of Fish band members are: Dana Lawrence (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Greg Poulos (vocals, guitars), Chris Guertin (vocals, bass), Robin Swenson (vocals, keyboards), and Pat McDonald (drums, vocals). Special guests and honorary members have included Thorson Moore, Berry Oakley, Garrett Dawson, Todd Cook and Andy Wallace.

Now that’s an Armageddon story

Have you heard of the Thwaites Glacier?

Of all of our possible end-of-the-word scenarios, Thwaites, the so-called “Doomsday Glacier,” could have the most impact on the planet – and us – much quicker than some of the other grim predictions.

According to the MIT Technology Review, in December, researchers reported huge growing cracks in the eastern ice shelf of the Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-size mass of ice that stretches 75 miles across western Antarctica. They warn that the floating tongue of the glacier, which acts as a brace to sustain the Thwaites, could disintegrate in five years and potentially cause more and more towering cliffs of ice to crumble and collapse.

According to scientists with the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, a complete collapse of the doomsday glacier could elevate ocean levels by two feet, or even by as much as 10 feet if surrounding glaciers collapse with it. Either way, it would flood coastlines around the world, threatening tens of millions of people.

Nice, huh? So, if this indeed is happening, is there any way for us to stop it?

Scientists have laid out several ways that people could intervene to preserve key glaciers. Some of the schemes involve building artificial braces through polar megaprojects, or installing other structures that would nudge nature to restore existing ones. A handful of engineering measures at the source of the problem could reduce the property damage and flooding dangers that all coastal cities and low-lying island nations will face, and also reduce the costs of the adaptation projects required to minimize them.

Researchers say that if it works, it could extend the lifespan of ice sheets for a few more centuries, giving humans more time to cut greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize the climate.

Here’s hoping. Can you imagine what 2 feet of water will look like on Siesta Key? Now imagine 10.

Phil Colpas
Author: Phil Colpas

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