Tuesday, November 14, 2006

White Sands = Gypsum

White Sands National Monument is an amazing place to visit. Just last Sunday, I drove up there with my kids. We had a super time.

The sands are almost pure gypsum. Gypsum is a type of rock that is almost completely soluble. It dissolves easily in water and when it rains, it washes out of the surrounding mountains into the White Sands area inside the Tularosa Basin. The reason all the sand stays in the Tularosa Basin is because there are no rivers or other natural water features that leave the basin area. The gypsum stays put because it has nowhere to go.

High winds in the area break up gypsum crystals that form after the water begins to evaporate. The wind creates the sand and pushes it into the high dunes in the park. Dunes can be as tall as 50 to 60 feet.

Source: National Park Service Fact Sheets

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