Ribbon of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean and the Outer Banks

Ribbon of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean and the Outer Banks

by John Alexander, James Lazell
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Ribbon of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean and the Outer Banks 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
nick_sh More than 1 year ago
Ribbons of Sand is no masterpiece in terms of writing. It is, in my opinion, average or slightly above. However, I believe that may lend to the book’s effectiveness. The sentences are generally clear and concise, without flowery writing to get in the way. In this it is both scientific and readable, two aspects that often seem mutually exclusive to many. Topics like the geology of the Banks or the forces that shape them are not off limits to the average reader.  This geology and the formation of the Outer Banks is perhaps one of the most fascinating topics in the book. Unlike any other barrier reefs or islands in the world, these banks do not have a Pleistocene coral base. As described in Chapter 2, a graduate student named Robert Dolan undertook “a research project near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina” at the urging of one of his doctoral professors. Over the course of a year “he drilled 140 holes, some of them up to 100 ft deep” (20). His findings revealed that the banks were no older than 5000 years and comprise entirely of Holocene (the current period) sand. As described in the same chapter, the geography of the United States east coast is the catalyst of the Outer Banks’ formation. The combination of shallow, sloping continental shelf, “elbow capes,” and rising sea creates perfect conditions for the deposition of sand just off the coast of North Carolina. It’s amazing to me that something as simple as the shape of a coastline can have such a drastic effect on the surrounding geography. For contrast, the authors point out that Brazil has a similar continental shelf, but the lack of elbow capes keeps the reef from form barrier islands like those in North Carolina. I was waiting for the clarity to turn into scientific jargon and the humanly prose to turn sterile. Neither happened. Instead I was pleasantly surprised with an insightful, comprehensive, and varied study on one of North America’s most interesting natural phenomena. Ribbons of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean & the Outer Banks is a book that anyone with an interest in geography, the Outer Banks, or the amazing interactions of nature should pick up. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
For those who like an understanding of the connectedness of living things and their environment, this book is a gem. Having read Ribbon of Sand while touring the coastal strand and maritime forest on Cape Hatteras, I felt much more informed by this account than by other, more simple travelogues. The authors do an excellent job of explaining in simple, clear language how water, wind and sand have shaped the Outer Banks, and what a future of rising sea levels and increasing human use may bring. The discussion of Outer Banks kingsnakes and how they have evolved is elegant and fun.