“The Science of Sand” crowd sourced database.
One of the things that we at NCPTT try not to do is reinvent the wheel. We are however always looking to others that are working on interesting wheels that might help us in the realm of heritage preservation. One of the our main goals in to be a clearing house to help introduce cross discipline projects that could be beneficial to conservators and preservationists. I was recently introduced to a great website “The Science of Sand” (http://www.scienceofsand.info/). This website is founded and run by Charles F. Lindgren a retired science teacher.
This site utilizes crowd sourcing to get volunteers to send in a small amount of sand, about the size of a teabag, with GPS coordinates and photographs. Charles then catalogs the sand on the website with each sample getting a separate entry page. The page includes three images of the sand. The first is a photo taken by the person submitting the sample of the site showing the sand and the background. Charles then posts two more photographs. The first image is a general image of the sand as you would see it on a beach. The second image is a macro photograph of approximately 9X. Finally Charles includes a reflectance spectrum graph of the sample. All of this information is free and open on the website for education purposes.
So if you are a preservationist doing mortar or stucco analysis, an archeologist looking at pottery thin sections and trying to source materials or a dozen other interests within cultural heritage preservation this website is worth looking into. In crowd sourcing the database is only as good as us the reader makes it. So check it out and send in your sand samples next time you are in the field. One of the main goals of the database is to chart a new sand sample each day, so keep checking the site often.