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Treasure Season For Metal Detectorists (Summer Vs. Winter Beach)

Have you ever heard of the phrase "sanded in"? Metal detectorists like to say that when they are finding nothing on their beach. The beach is a living Rube Goldberg device that is constantly in motion. The gold and silver objects that we covet are in motion too! But I will argue that at any given moment at a high volume beach (one that sees more than 400,000 visitors per year), there will be at least 1000 rings in the sand of the beach. Our metal detectors cannot reach all of them on a given day; or even most of them. But there are pockets that become available as a beach profile changes. Wait! What? What is a beach profile?

Earth Scientists speak of beach profiles. A beach profile can be defined as a cross-shore measure of elevation from the dune to the water across the beach). According to pHd candidate Bianca Charbonneau, "there are both summer and winter profiles for each beach due to variation in wind and wave energy between seasons." She goes on to say that, "along the mid-Atlantic, seasonal variation in prevailing wind direction and speed results in larger waves in the winter months. Prevailing winds are from the southwest in summer and from the northwest in winter while storms and northeast wind (nor’easters), which have the most potential to cause coastal erosion, occur mostly in the fall."

For metal detectorists, a low beach means that there is a shot at treasures that have sunk down in the sand. There is no doubt that objects can be pushed in, and pulled out by the waves. I have proof of that statement. Look at this article about an engagement ring that was returned in Scotland. The ring was found 11 MILES AWAY from where it was originally dropped!

You can infer from the statements made above that the season to detect is when your beach is the lowest. On the Atlantic coast, that is the fall and winter time. Metal Detectorists can find freshly dropped objects in the summer, but these drops will be moved by the waves or will sink in the sand. The winter is the time of low and eroded beach profiles.

Charbonneau goes on to say, "Regardless of direction, wind speed is greater in the winter because of the increased temperature difference between the poles and equator. Air movement is caused by uneven heating, so as the difference between the temperature of the poles and equator increases, so does wind speed because the temperature gradient causes warm air rising from the equator to be more quickly replaced by air from the poles. "

The biggest impetus for sand movement is wind and when sand moves, the objects that we love to find are in motion. There is a certain amount of energy that is required to move an object even a few feet from its drop point and that energy IS NOT present on the majority of days in a year. An increase in wind speed, direction and fetch (fetch is the distance between the points of minimum and maximum water-surface elevation) will shock the deposited sand and cause erosion on a beach.

Charbonneau states that, "Gentler summer waves deposit sand from offshore bars onto the beach, ultimately widening it and increasing its elevation. Conversely, stronger winter waves with more energy, pick up those particles deposited in the summer, and carry them back offshore in bars, thus narrowing the beach. These offshore bars work to help buffer the beach during the winter from erosion as they cause waves to break further offshore."

On any given day, there are 1000 rings sunken in the sand of a beach. Not all of them are available at the same time. Seasons matter and beach events matter. The best detectorists understand the dynamics of their beaches even if it is observational rather than scientific. Wave speed plays a huge role in sand movement and all beaches have varying wave speeds.

For example, the beaches on the outer sand bars have fast wave speeds, while the shoreline of the Great South Bay have minimal waves because there isn't enough space for wind to accelerate waves. You can read more of my tips in my book, Merrill's Guide To Finding Rings With A Metal Detector.

Remember, is the home of the HONEY BADGER SCOOP! When you get sick of the poorly made, tin cans of detector scoops on the market, try the Samurai Sword of beach metal detecting scoops.

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