Volcanic Eruptions Along the Sands of Myrtle Beach

By Henry H. Mitchell, July 24, 2010.

The video at top right shows one of many sand volcanoes which appeared ahead of the rising tide at Myrtle Beach State Park today. Air, water, and sand burp out of the natural opening in the spongey, air-filled sand as each wave approaches. Finally a wave of ocean water sweeps over the little volcano and it is lost to view.

The second video, at middle right, shows another sand volcano, this time a few hundred yards farther north, at Springmaid Beach, a few days later. The beach is a little flatter here as the waves approach, the sand seems more saturated with water, and the volcanic belch is more vigorous.

The third video, at lower right, shows a third sand volcano, this one in a tidal pool exactly at the tide line as the tide rises. In this case the pressurized ejection is underwater.

One might assume that the volcanoes' formation is assisted by some creature burrowed into the sand. Some sand volcanoes are; in the southeastern U.S. the ghost shrimp does create sand volcanoes, but those volcano openings are typically surrounded by tiny dark pellets of the animal's waste. The volcanoes in these videos have no such debris.

An excellent further discussion of sand volcanoes is found in Neal, Pilkey, and Kelley's book Atlantic Coast Beaches.

This guide to Myrtle Beach is sponsored by Mitchells Publications.