Sunset 3 - White Sands
Photograph - Photograph
Unlike any other place on Earth � White Sands National Monument, New Mexico USA
Rising from the center of the Tularosa Basin is one of the Earth�s great natural wonders - the glistening White Sands of New Mexico. Great wave shaped dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dune field, along with the plants and animals that live here. The largest gypsum dune field in the world is located here at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. This region of glistening white dunes is in the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert within a valley called the Tularosa Basin. The monument ranges in elevation from 3890 feet asl to 4116 feet asl. There are approximately 275 total square miles of dune fields here, with 115 square miles (about 40%) located within White Sands National Monument. The remainder is on military land that is not open to the public. This dune field is very dynamic, with the most active dunes moving northeast at a rate of up to 30 feet per year, while the more stable areas of sand move very little. The pure gypsum (hydrous calcium sulfate) that forms these unusual dunes originates in the western portion of the monument from an ephemeral lake or playa with a very high mineral content. As the water evaporates, as much as 80" per year, the minerals are left behind to form gypsum deposits that eventually are wind-transported to form these white sand dunes. Many species of plants and animals have developed very specialized means of surviving in this area of cold winters, hot summers, with very little surface water and highly mineralized ground water.
January 30th, 2013
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