This isn't snow, so what is it?

Here's the full image. If you're sharp-eyed, you might spot a familiar object for scale. As usual, the answer is after the photo:


A sandy beach in Hawaii photographed on December 1, 2007. Image credit: Courtney Schaneville/USGS

This is a sandy beach near Waimea on Kauai in Hawaii. Draining water carved gullies into the soft sediment, depositing it as miniature alluvial fans at the base of the slopes. Tiny quartz crystals glitter in the sunlight, creating the type of sheen more familiar to snowy landscapes.

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