Tiny remnants of World War II found in Omaha Beach sand.

Shrapnel grains and an iron bead, remnants of the D-Day…

Shrapnel grains and an iron bead, remnants of the D-Day invasion, are pictured in this undated handout scanning electron microscope image obtained by Reuters June 1, 2012. REUTERS/Earle McBride/Dane Picard/Handout.

“We didn’t think about, ‘Hey, there should be shrapnel here?'” said McBride, 80, a professor emeritus at the University of Texas who retired in 2005 but still goes to his office five hours a day to study rocks.

But the geologists did what long ago became their habit when they visit a beach anywhere in the world: they put a bit of sand in a plastic bag and took it home.

McBride didn’t fully analyze the sample for more than two decades. Finally, in retirement, he made a slide of the sand by using blue-dyed epoxy to bind the grains together.

McBride suspected the jagged grains were shrapnel, and he used a scanning electron microscope to verify his hunch. It showed the grains were iron with a bit of oxygen from rust.

Read the rest of Corrie MacLaggan’s Reuters report here.

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