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Encyclopedia > White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is well-known for its fields of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals.
White Sands National Monument is well-known for its fields of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals.

The White Sands National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located about 25km (15 miles) southwest of Alamogordo in the state of New Mexico. The area is in the mountain-ringed Tularosa Basin valley area and comprises the southern part of a 710kmĀ² (275-square mile) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... A U.S. National Monument is a protected area of the United States that is similar to a national park (specifically a U.S. National Park) except that the President of the United States can quickly declare an area of the United States to be a national monument without Congressional... Alamogordo is a city located in Otero County, New Mexico, United States of America. ... A U.S. state is any one of the fifty states (four of which officially favor the term commonwealth) which, along with the District of Columbia, form the United States of America. ... Official language(s) None, English and Spanish de facto Capital Santa Fe Largest city Albuquerque Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 5th 315,194 km² 550 km 595 km 0. ... This article is about the sand formations, for other meanings see Dune (disambiguation) Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley National Park In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by eolian (wind-related) processes. ... Gypsum is a very soft mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O. // Chemical structure Gypsum from New South Wales, Australia Heating gypsum above approximately 150°C (302°F) partially dehydrates the mineral by driving off exactly 75% of the water contained in its chemical structure. ...


Gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand because it is water soluble. Normally, rain would dissolve the gypsum and carry it to the sea. Since the Tularosa Basin has no outlet to the sea, rain that dissolves gypsum from the surrounding San Andres and Sacramento Mountains is trapped within the basin and either sinks into the ground or forms shallow pools that subsequently dry out and leave gypsum in a crystalline form called selenite on the surface. During the last ice age a lake called Lake Otero covered much of the basin. When it dried out it left a large flat area of selenite crystals which is now the Alkali Flat. Lake Lucero, at the south-west corner of the park, is a dry lake bed at one of the lowest points of the basin that occasionally fills with water. The San Andres Mountains is a mountain range in the state of New Mexico of the United States, in the counties of Socorro, Sierra, and Doña Ana. ... Sacramento Mountains an eastern extension of the Rocky Mountains in southwestern New Mexico into West Texas. ... Selenite Gypsum crystal Selenite (chemical formula: CaSO4·2H2O) is a hydrous calcium sulfate, meaning it is composed of oxygen, sulfur, hydrogen, calcium and water. ... Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years For the animated movie, see Ice Age (movie). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into salt pan (geology). ...


The ground in the Alkali Flat and along Lake Lucero's shore is covered with selenite crystals which reach lengths of up to three feet. Weather erosion eventually breaks the crystals into sand-size grains that are carried away by the prevailing winds from the south-west, forming white dunes.

White Sands at sunset
White Sands at sunset

The dunes constantly change shape and slowly move downwind, covering the plants in their path. Some species of plants, however, can grow rapidly enough to avoid being buried by the dunes. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1280x960, 564 KB) White Sands National Monument at sunset. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1280x960, 564 KB) White Sands National Monument at sunset. ...


From the visitor center at the entrance of the park, the Dunes Drive leads 8 miles (12 km) into the dunes. Four marked trails allow to explore the dunes by foot. During the summer, there are also Ranger-guided orientation and nature walks. In areas accessible by car, kids frequently use the dunes for sledding downhill.


The park lies completely within the White Sands Missile Range, and both the park and the U.S. 70 between the park and Las Cruces, New Mexico may be closed for safety reasons while tests are conducted on the missile range. On average, this happens about twice a week, for a duration of one to two hours. White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), formerly known as the White Sands Proving Grounds, is located in a valley between the Organ Mountains and the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico. ... Las Cruces is a city located in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. ...


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