White Sands, New Mexico

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, Universityof Wisconsin - Green Bay

Approaching White Sands from Alomogordo.
This has to be one of the most user-friendly national monuments. They'll even rent plastic sleds to slide down the dunes. Seriously, what can you do to a sand dune?
The sand is gypsum blown off a playa lake to the west. At only 2 on the Mohs hardness scale, it's soft and non-abrasive.
Ripple marks
One of my students, an Army Reservist, used to compete in rucksack races across the dunes.
Wind erosion eventually exposes plant roots.
Eerily reminiscent of winter in Wisconsin.
The dunes end very abruptly. There is no gypsum sand along the highway at all.

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Created 7 April 2003, Last Update 06 June 2020