Sand Magnified

Sand grains magnified 110-250 times reveal each grain is unique.

grains of sand
The tip of a spiral shell has broken off and become a grain of sand. After being repeatedly tumbled by action of the surf this spiral sand grain has become opalescent in character. It is surrounded by bits of coral, a pink shell fragment, a foram (a type of protozoa) and volcanic material. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

grains of sand
A handful of sand grains selected from a beach in Maui and arranged on a black background. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

Every grain of sand in the world is unique when viewed through a microscope.
sand grains
Sand magnified 250 times. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

sand grains magnified
Sand Magnified. Photo by Yanping Wang.

magnified sand
Sand magnified 250 times. Photo via Tumblr.

Sand Magnified Around The World

grains of sand
The glacially deposited sands around Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota, contain abundant sediments from the igneous and metamorphic minerals of the Lake Superior basin. A sample includes pink garnets, green epidote, iron-rich red agates, black magnetite, and hematite. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

sand grains magnified
Magnified grains of star sand from Southern Japan, made up of the calcified shells of tiny organisms. Photo by Richard Mouser Williams.


Beautiful Framed Seashell

Neat idea for decorating a beach house, or any space you want a splash of the sea. The frame is 14″x17″, and yes, it’s a real seashell. Sold by for $119.99.

magnified grains of sand
Magnified grains of Star Sand. Photo by Richard Mouser Williams.

grains of sand
Puffy Stars: Star-Shaped Sand Grains from Okinawa. These tiny foram, a type of protozoa, secrete beautiful star-shaped, calcium carbonate shells, or tests. Photo via

magnified sand
Coral sand magnified one-hundred times using transmission electron microscopy, brightfield mode. By Dr. David Maitland, Feltwell, UK,

grain of sand
Many grains of sand are tiny crystals (shiny, flat-sided solids). Sand from Zushi Beach, Japan, contains what looks like a sapphire crystal. The crystal is larger than the surrounding grains and has survived eroding because of its hardness and quality. Photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg.

grain of sand
Fragments of baby sea urchin shells, magnified one-hundred times. Biogenic sand, formed from the remains of marine life, is the major ingredient of many tropical beaches. Via

grains of sand
A magnified view of the tropical beach sand from the Caribbean island of St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands). The grains include porous fragments of brightly-colored corals, minute foraminiferan shells, fragments of sea shells and shiny, star-shaped sponge spicules. Photo via

Sand Photographer Dr. Gary Greenberg

Every grain of sand is a jewel waiting to be discovered. That’s what Dr. Gary Greenberg found when he first turned his microscope on beach sand. Gemlike minerals, colorful coral fragments, and delicate microscopic shells reveal that sand comprises much more than tiny beige rocks.

Author and photographer Dr. Gary Greenberg is a visual artist who creatively combines art with science. He has a Ph.D. in biomedical research from University College London and holds 17 patents for high-definition 3-D light microscopes. Dr. Greenberg lives in Haiku, Hawaii.

Dr. Greenberg has published two books:

The Universe Of Sand

Carl Sagan famously remarked “the total number of stars in the universe is greater than all the grains of sand on all the beaches on the planet Earth.” University of Hawai’i researches estimate that the total number of ‘all’ grains of sand on the whole planet could be approximately 75 billion billion. Scientists still believe there are more stars in the Universe.

Speaking of planets: If a grain of sand represented an entire galaxy; so each grain of sand, or galaxy, contains 100’s of billions of stars, you would need to fill six rooms full of sand to contain all the galaxies in the known universe. If you drilled a tiny hole in one of the grains of sand, ‘our Milky Way universe,’ that would be the area that we have been capable of seaching for planets so far. About 2000 planets have been discovered so far.

Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.


Leave a Reply
  1. thank you for sharing this beautiful magnificent piece of art and history. One day when I go to Hawaii I would like to meet you to learn more.

  2. There are many things in the world that are not so beautiful in the sense that they represent threats to life. They too may have beautiful outside physical forms.

    So are they also designs of a loving God?

    Your faith is missing an essential component of human knowledge, awareness and maturity…critical thinking and a deep humility that realiizes that the universe does not revolve around us. We are part of of it, but not the ultimate focus of it.

    You can admire and appreciate the subjective beauty of the universe without requiring a belief in supernatural origins. Life can be just as rich and rewarding without faith in a unverifiable higher power. Life as it is…is enough.

  3. You pseudo-Christians need to realize that not everyone needs a mythical ‘god’ to explain why there is beauty in nature and to use as an excuse for doing NOTHING to preserve it and,in fact, usually being the money-grubbing rapist of this beautiful planet. If you are not an environmentalist, you ARE the problem.

  4. This is informative, educational, beautifully arranged and presented. I never thought that there was so much beauty in a grain of sand.

  5. I cannot praise this highly enough!! The photos are BREATH-TAKING+++ AND the text is FASCINATING+++!! Many, MANY THANKS for sharing this WONDER+++!! Hugs

  6. Forgive me for writing a 2nd time, but you’ve got me wondering and wooondering about the ingredients that make up sand as I have never wondered before!! I’m sooo grateful!! Anyway, my question is this: do you find fragments of teeth and bones, I wonder? I’ve been thinking of allll of the sea-bound and earth-bound creatures – incl. the creatures known as humans – who, over time out of mind, have perished in or near the sea – and it just makes sense to me that fragments of their teeth/bones would have become/will become grains of sand. Hugs

  7. Evolution….God….just remember…quarts doesnt weather into clay particles and these picture are stunning

  8. The more we learn the more we realize that we have the need to learn so much more. There are definately powers greater thatn ours.

  9. Now I want to go down to our beach and bring back some sand to check out. Ours is very fine and pretty white. If we have a very stormy winter much of it goes away leaving rock, but comes back. I have been told that most of it comes from river rocks in the Carmel River which gets deposited in the very deep Carmel Canyon. There it gets beat up by the waves and eventually is deposited around the point at Carmel Beach. So now I need to know how much of the sand is from the rock and how much from shells or protozoa. Thanks for making me want to find out more information.

  10. What beautiful treasures we tread on at the beach. Thank you for the beautiful photographs and explanations. We’re literally walking on treasures and gemstones.

    (By the way, you mis-spelled ‘whole.’ It should have been spelled ‘hole.’ )

  11. Another reason to walk in gratitude and reverence on this beautiful planet. We are literally treading on the continuum of life. The bodies of ancestors lie beneath us and someday so will ours.

  12. I see every day the unending beauty that God has supplied for us that we take for granted, but I never dreamed that each grain of the sand at our beach held such unbelievable beauty. I appreciate your opening my eyes further to God’s wondrous gifts.

  13. I really appreciated the article and megnified images of various grain structures.

    I would like to receive such brain storming information and or wonders of the world explored and photographed by many geneious persons.

  14. I loved all these pictures. When I lived up in Ft Bragg Iwas in a mania for shells andsea glass. I made jewelry pins, and cards with pix of the pins.

  15. I have walked on a beach almost daily for the last ten years and never realized the beauty beneath my feet. Thank you so much for opening my eyes!

  16. If you drilled a tiny whole in one of the grains of sand …’

    This is an awesome presentation!

    But I still think the intended word here was ‘hole’ … not ‘whole’


  17. Who would have thought we have at sometime been walking on these JEWELS, JUST MAGIC.

    Dr. Gary Greenberg thank you so much for sharing this with us.Kate. P.S. I have now sent it round the world to my friends so they can share in the beauty of your work.

  18. My first entomologist (Bug Dr.) encouraged us to always think small in order to see the wonder of insects and other micro organisms. Never did I think of how beautiful the world of sand grains could be. Totally awesome.

  19. thankyou so much for shairing i neaver realized what i have been walking on every day when i walk i will ponder of what i am on

  20. We were just on Maui and had no idea what was on the beaches under our feet. Thank you for your delightful photos. This strikes me as an interesting idea to apply to one of the Mars rover missions. Since it seems there were bodies of water there in the past, a close examination of the sands they left might be another way to search for signs of (past) life on Mars.

  21. I’m a poet on Cape Cod. Your work I’m sure will inspire me to write one about our beautiful sand. It’s more than beautiful! Thank you

  22. Thank you so much for these beautiful photos of sand. I would never have imagined how very beautiful each and every grain of sand could be. Our world never ceases to amaze me of it’s beauty.

  23. A perfect example of ‘NOW THAT IS GOD! ‘

    Only HE can produce such beauty in some- thing most of us look at mostly and simply as dirt or snow and not as indivdual flakes. It’s like actually seeing them as HE does! Magnificent Photos of HIS handiwork. Heaven will be even more exciting. One can almost hear the footsteps

  24. Romans 1:20; For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable;

  25. Little do we humans comprehend what our Creator has wrought. He has created all these beautiful things for us to enjoy, and yet, He gave His only Begotten Son to come here and give His life for us that we might have salvation. What a wonderful, wonderful, loving, magnificent God!!

  26. Where exactly is this God’s signature? People just take away all the mystery, wonder and humility to really try and comprehend the implications of natural phenomena by ‘seeing’ their favourite god’s brand mark on them. For every new discovery, every new proof of nature’s sheer scale and variety, they will make some dumb comment which is to say something like, oh, I know where that came from, it was my god, my father who manufactured it, … and my holy book said something like that much before you took the trouble to work hard and show us what you are sharing. Personally, I think, it’s people’s not just lack of knowledge but their intellectual laziness that keeps them from finding out for themselves more about the amazing universe we live. When somebody else shares such wondrous stuff it that makes them feel sort of inferior;a sort of complex really that gives rise to jealousy. These people think it’s more worthwhile to worship and pray, and occupy oneself in the world of religion and politics. Wasting time discovering the wonders of nature is for weirdos and geeks.

    They will use their leisure time to enjoy and wallow in their mindless activities rather than acknowledge the need to try and understand what it all means. They will justify their selfish urges to lead a sinless life so they will be rewarded in some heaven or afterlife. They would rather not think but believe and stay in a state of hypnosis which is akin to a soporific drug-induced state of hallucination. Unfortunately, these images will not snap them back to consciousness and they will continue to see their maker’s brand name inscribed in everything.

  27. I have always loved the nature we have around us. The grains of sand prove that God is amazing in everything he has done.

    What a wonder in each grain…

  28. I don’t know who YOU are, but I’M impressed!!

    There is so much we take for granted without realizing and understanding the mirical that it is.

  29. I feel sorry that you cannot know and see the joy and love that ‘God’ brings. And this is just another example of his hand.

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