28 Quicksand Facts: Learn About This Mixture Of Water & Sand

Akshita Rana
Apr 06, 2023 By Akshita Rana
Originally Published on Mar 14, 2022
Edited by Pete Anderson
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
Warning quicksand, danger ahead.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

Do you know what quicksand is?

Many people think that quicksand is a type of sand, but it is actually a mixture of sand particles and water. Quicksand forms when water-logged sand can no longer support its own weight, and it can be found all over the world.

If you ever find yourself stuck in a quicksand pit, remember to stay calm. There are various things you can do to get yourself out of the quicksand pit. Read on to learn about the formation and dangers of quicksand, as well as other interesting quicksand facts.

Dangers Of Quicksand

Quicksand is not as dangerous as it is made out to be in movies, but there are some risks associated with it.

Quicksand is made up of loose sand and water. It changes viscosity in reaction to stress or movement, allowing individuals to sink in it while making escape extremely difficult.

Since the density of quicksand fluid is greater than that of human bodies, it is impossible for a human to sink entirely into quicksand. In fact, even items with a higher density compared to that of quicksand will float atop it, provided they are motionless.

A person can only sink to their waist while stranded in quicksand. Individuals can drown in quicksand only if they fall face-first or head-first into it, which is extremely rare.

Most people who drown in quicksand are those who panic and start flailing their arms and legs.

People may sink deeper into a quicksand pit if they move frantically out of fear and panic. As they get deeper, their movement will become impaired. The situation might even worsen because of other elements like hypothermia, predatory animals, weather exposure, dehydration, and so on.

A rescuer will not be able to help a victim escape from quicksand by themselves simply. Instead, it'll be easier to get out by taking the help of another individual or a branch to pull out. 

When additional water from tides, rain, or splashing water moves in over the quicksand, you may drown. 

On wet quicksand, hypothermia can come quickly, as people trapped inside cannot maintain a steady body temperature indefinitely when half of their bodies are buried in the sand.

Victims stuck in quicksand may suffer from dehydration as well.

Your breathing may be hampered or even suffocated depending on how you are positioned in quicksand.

Excessive pressure on skeletal muscle and the circulatory system can cause muscle and nerve injury, as well as the release of chemicals that induce kidney disease. 

A victim trapped in quicksand may face dangers from predatory animals like vultures and alligators as well.

If you find yourself stuck in a quicksand pit, instead of panicking, simply stop moving. Lean back and wiggle your feet to expand your surface area and try to float.

Locations And Areas Where Quicksand Is Found

A quicksand can form anywhere where the right conditions are present; however, there are certain places where the probability of the formation of quicksand is higher.

Quicksand is found in locations with grainy soil, such as riverbanks, marshes, lake shorelines, beaches, and areas near natural springs.

Quicksand can form anywhere in the United States. Still, significant hotspots include the marshy coasts of Florida and the Carolinas, as well as the canyons of southern Utah, New Mexico, and northern Arizona.

Quicksand is often found in troughs where large rivers meet the sea, beaches, and streams. In these places, layers of sand and clay get accumulated in the water puddles and act as barriers in drainage.

In deserts, quicksand can form when extremely fine sand particles create a deposition layer on top of more grainy sand. It typically occurs at the base of dunes in deserts, where the downward moving wind pushes space between the sand particles.

The dry quicksand found in deserts is usually not as thick and deep as wet quicksand found near water sources.

At the time of Apollo missions, dry quicksand was seen as a potential hazard, and it may exist on planet Mars and the Moon as well.

Earthquakes are also accompanied by quicksand. Often people, buildings, and cars have been engulfed by the shaking forces and vibrations.

Unlucky buried person standing in natural quicksand river.

Characteristics And Nature Of Quicksand

In a few words, quicksand is a mixture of fine granular materials like dry sand particles, mud, silt, clay, and water or air.

Quicksand can be of two types: dry quicksand and wet quicksand. While dry quicksand is made of sand and air, wet quicksand is a combination of sand or silt particles and water.

A quicksand pit is just a few inches deep and can never wholly submerge a whole person.

More often than sand, silt is commonly present in quicksand.

A quicksand is formed when waterlogged loose sand is rapidly stirred. When water is unable to escape from the sand, it creates liquefied soil that loses strength and cannot sustain its own weight.

Essentially, most quicksand is a result of flowing underground water and earthquakes that agitate the sand. 

Flowing underground water causes the force of the upward flow of water to be contrary to gravity. This makes the sand particles more buoyant, and thus, a quicksand is created.

The vibrations and shaking force of earthquakes exert pressure on the shallow groundwater. These forces liquefy silt and sand present on the surface. Eventually, the damp area gives up strength and turns into quicksand.

The formation of quicksand is relatively frequent and can be found anywhere in the world, especially in deserts, coastal areas, riverbanks, beaches, and marshy areas.

The density of quicksand is much higher than that of human bodies; that is why, at most, a person can only sink waist-deep in it and float on it.

Learning about quicksand is helpful as it can be found in many areas worldwide, and it is highly common for a person to get trapped in it. However, unlike what is presented in movies, you must remember never to panic and move frantically to escape from a quicksand pit successfully.

By being aware of quicksand and its dangers, you can help keep yourself and others safe from this potentially dangerous occurrence.


Can you walk on quicksand?

Quicksand can be dangerous to walk on, as even slight movements can cause you to sink. Therefore, it is important to avoid walking on quicksand, as this increases the risk of getting stuck in it.

Has anyone actually died in quicksand?

It is extremely rare for someone to perish in quicksand as the density of this fluid is higher than the density of the human body. However, there have been few cases where people have died from being unable to free themselves from quicksand in time.

What is at the bottom of quicksand?

The bottom of quicksand is usually made up of silt, clay, and other fine materials. These sediments can be very dangerous if you are stuck in quicksand, as they can quickly suck you down to the bottom.

How fast do you sink in quicksand?

How quicksand behaves depends on a number of factors, such as the type of sand, the amount of water, and the climate. Generally speaking, quicksand will liquefy when disturbed and can cause people and objects to sink quickly. Hence, getting stuck in a quicksand pit can have dangerous consequences.

Where do you find quicksand in the world?

Quicksand can be found all over the world, typically in coastal areas, riverbanks, and near underground water sources. It can also be found in deserts, where it is formed by a mixture of sand and air instead of water. Moreover, it may also be present on the surface of the Moon and Mars.

What is another name for quicksand?

Quicksand is known by several names: morass, quagmire, gumbo, shifting-sands, quicksilver, and swamp.

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Written by Akshita Rana

Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Science specializing in Management

Akshita Rana picture

Akshita RanaBachelor of Business Administration, Master of Science specializing in Management

With a Master's in Management from the University of Manchester and a degree in Business Management from St. Xavier's, Jaipur, India, Akshita has worked as a content writer in the education sector. She previously collaborated with a school and an education company to improve their content, showcasing her skills in writing and education. Akshita is multilingual and enjoys photography, poetry, and art in her free time, which allows her to bring a creative touch to her work as a writer at Kidadl.

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Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Shruti Thapa picture

Shruti ThapaBachelor of Arts specializing in English

With a passion for American, British, and children's literature, Shruti is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree at Garden City University, Bengaluru. Her fluency in Nepali, Hindi, and Mandarin demonstrates her linguistic abilities and global perspective. In addition to her literary pursuits, she has a keen interest in non-fiction literature, aesthetics, early childhood education, and Egyptian history. Shruti's research paper 'Bringing Art Illustrations In Education And Pop Culture' showcases her proficiency in these areas and her dedication to academic excellence.

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