Purple sand on Revere Beach happens often

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“Isn’t it amazing?” said Lori Donarumo, 65, of Danvers. She snapped a picture of the sand with a huge smile on her face.
Some beachgoers were wondering how the sand had turned such a vibrant color. Turn out, the change is a natural phenomenon caused by mineral deposits of rose quartz and garnet from the White Mountains, according to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
REVERE — Purple-tinted sand shimmered in the winter sun on a strip of Revere Beach Tuesday as people stopped to take pictures and appreciate its beauty.
Donarumo, who visits a lot of beaches in the winter, usually sees the purplish sand further north, in Hampton Beach in New Hampshire and Salisbury Beach, but not so close to Boston.
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“I’ve been here almost 50 years, and my sister used to take me to the beach when I was a baby,” Donarumo said. “I’ve never seen it this far south.”
DCR has documented the purple-tinted sand at Plum Island and Crane Beach in Ipswich, according to a spokesperson.
“I thought this year it would be nice for the Valentine’s holiday,” Revere Mayor Patrick M. Keefe Jr. quipped, joking that the city was responsible for the sand. In actuality, Keefe said he used to see the purple sand when he was young, sometimes just under the surface.
There is a purple tinted color in the sands at Revere Beach from mineral deposits coming from the White Mountains. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
“Most kids who grow up in Revere, like myself, you dig a little bit and you see the other layer,” Keefe said.
Jay Broccolo, director of weather operations at the Mount Washington Observatory, said the quartz and garnet structures of the White Mountains erode and are carried by rivers and streams to places like Revere Beach.
While it’s hard to know for sure, the heavy flooding in the White Mountains likely contributed to the current color change.
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The whole month of December the mountains saw “really bad flooding,” Broccolo said. Saco River, which flows from the White Mountains and empties into southwestern Maine, reached its highest level in two decades.
“As we see more extreme events, there will be more signs,” Broccolo said.
Mariano Melo, 69, of Revere, has lived in the area for 38 years and walked the beach for the past eight years. He said he had seen the purple-tinted sand before, especially after storms.
“It’s Mother Nature doing what it wants,” Melo said.
Broccolo said the tinted sand might be “a little bit more abrasive to the skin.” Its chemical composition is normal except for a high concentration of garnet, according to the DCR spokesperson.
And on a cold February day, people appreciated the sand’s strange beauty the way the purple danced in the sun.
“In between all these damn high-risers, I need some color,” said Debra Laberge, 70, of Revere. “It’s really pretty.”
Ava Berger can be reached at ava.berger@globe.com. Follow her @Ava_Berger_.

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