PRANZINI, E., and VITALE, G., 2011. Beach Sand Colour: the Need for a Standardised Assessment Procedure. In: Micallef, A. (ed.), MCRR3-2010 Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 61, pp. 66-69. Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, ISSN 0749-0208.
Beach sand colour is one of the most important components of coastal landscape and particularly, a fundamental factor for beach ecology, as it influences sand temperature. Nevertheless, sand colour is often described in a subjective and qualitative manner, using non-standardised terminology and leading to non-comparable results in environmental studies which consider this aspect. Perceptive distance between colours can be measured, and perceived colour can be similarly assessed, if appropriate colour spaces are used; however, this cannot be achieved by an observer and is not frequently used in imaging systems. Several beach nourishments, performed with limited attention to colour compatibility, have changed the coastal landscape and created conflicts among stakeholders in many locations, resulting in legal controversies. The present paper compares the different “colour spaces” currently available for sand colour assessment (RGB, Munsell, CIEL*a*b*), tests some procedures for analysing sediments of different size and explains the need for using uniform colour spaces, both for environmental description and for fill sediment compatibility assessment. Case studies of beach nourishments performed in Italy are used to show the relevance of this aspect in Coastal Zone Management.