The enigma of intricately fitted beach boulders near Raglan, New Zealand

2016-07-29T07:38:55Z (GMT) by CS Nelson SD Hood
<p>An intertidal rocky platform tucked in behind a rocky headland on open-ocean Gibson Beach, near Raglan, supports an agglomeration of cobble- to large-boulder-sized clasts of Cenozoic sandstone and limestone. Rather than exhibiting just point contacts, many larger clasts are tightly interlocked and fitted with their neighbours and/or the underlying platform bedrock. Clast interface geometry relates to the strength contrast between adjacent rock types, linked to their calcite (cement) content. The end-product is an armoured, highly stable framework of boulder clasts resembling a giant three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. While the direct impact of breaking waves likely plays a role in in situ jostling of boulders, we speculate that mechanical abrasion and fitting between larger clasts may also be promoted and maintained by in situ microvibration of the boulders as a consequence of wave-induced microseismic shaking within the cliff-backed rocky platform and headland, especially during major storm wave assault from the southwest.</p>