Sands of Forvie

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The Sands of Forvie represent excellent examples of active geomorphological processes. Here, an outstanding beach-dune complex has developed over the last 4,000 years, forming one of the largest areas of blown sand in Scotland. The area has attracted researchers of coastal landforms and processes for many years.

The sands stretch for 24km north along the coast from Aberdeen. Three large rivers have their estuaries along this stretch (the Dee, the Don and the Ythan), and the Sands are split into two components: the Forvie peninsula and Foveran links, with the Ythan estuary marking the boundary between the two.

Present day processes include winds, waves and tides, with the dominant direction for sediment movement being northwards. The sands formed largely as a result of deglaciation at the end of the last ice age. Following the melting of the last Scottish glaciers approximately 10,000 years ago, vast quantities of sediment were transported by rivers to the coast where they were deposited off-shore. However, as sea levels rose due to the melting of the Scandinavian and North American ice sheets (peaking approximately 4,000 years ago), these sediments were reworked and deposited back onshore.

The northern part of the Forvie Peninsula exhibits classic parabolic dunes and sand hills. The area is underlain by a till covered plateau. The southern part of the peninsula has well developed dune complexes and dynamic sand hills. Sand waves run in a N-S direction, defining this sand peninsula. The area is underlain by glaciofluvial, raised estuarine and beach terraces.

A large, dynamic sand dune complex exists at Foveran Links. Longitudinal bars are found at the southerly end, merging into a shifting sand bar and spit complex at the northern end (at the Ythan estuary). This occurs due to the northerly drift of sediment.

cs_forvieSand dunes at Forvie – an outstanding beach-dune complex has developed over the last 4,000 years, forming one of the largest areas of blown sand in Scotland. © Scottish Natural Heritage.

Further reading:

Trewin, N.H., Kneller, B.C. & Gillen, C. 1987. Excursion Guide to the Geology of the Aberdeen Area. Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh.