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A few questions about the meaning of bold-faced phrase


The passage below is from Fathoms: The World in the Whale Hardcover by Rebecca Giggs.


The sun drags its fingers along ferrous runnels in the sand. Soon it will be too dim to take good pictures. The race is on. I push closer to our immense animal interloper, and, though the crowd still obscures it, I can begin to see it, in parts, between people. The leaving light turns copper in the spray. Like a glowing periscope, the boys’ tablet allows those behind them to see a little further ahead: they hold it up. Floodlights are being assembled to afford a greater opportunity to observe the whale and take its mortuary portraits.


The author tries to get closer to see a stranded whale in an ocean bath.


My questions are about the 1st sentence, specifically on ‘ferrous runnels in the sand


In dictionary, ‘ferrous’ means ‘of metal’, and ‘runnel’ means ‘little stream’, but ‘ferrous runnels’, literally ‘little stream of metal’ doesn’t make any sense to me, neither does ‘ferrous runnels in the sand’.


But even if I grasp the phrase in question, the problem still remains.


The whole sentence ‘The sun drags its fingers along ferrous runnels in the sand’ doesn’t give me any picture, either.


I can get some picture of the sentence like below.

The aching sun drags its fingers over the horizon.’


This sentence seems to say the sun sets laboriously over the horizon (since the writer of this sentence aches over something), something like that.


But on the sentence in question I have no idea. Could you give me some help?

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Stenka25The sun drags its fingers along ferrous runnels in the sand.

The rays of the sun light up the tops of the little ripples in the iron-rich sand. The sand is orange-colored from the iron content in the grains.

Here is a picture.

Here is another.

Comments  
Stenka25In dictionary, ‘ferrous’ means ‘of metal’,

In the dictionary

It does not mean "of metal". It means "having to do with iron". Throw that dictionary away and get a good one.

Stenka25‘ferrous runnels’, literally ‘little stream of metal’ doesn’t make any sense to me, neither does ‘ferrous runnels in the sand’

And no wonder. The writer is trying to be all creative and all, but she only sets the poor reader puzzles with scant reward. By "ferrous" she means "rust-colored", but nobody else means that by it. Rust is ferric oxide, not ferrous oxide, but she didn't let the facts get in the way of her genius.

Stenka25‘The sun drags its fingers along ferrous runnels in the sand’ doesn’t give me any picture, either.

And no wonder. Think about it for about fifteen minutes, shrug, then read the next sentence. But let me try to help. If you drag your fingers through wet sand, you make grooves, runnels. Between the grooves will be ridges. The sun is near the horizon, so at its low angle it will illuminate only the ridges. Her description gets all that backwards, but please ignore that.

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.

Thanks a lot as always, anonymous.

Thanks a lot as always, AlpheccaStars.

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