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c. Bill Dunmire

Where in the World Is It?

Answer: That isn't snow in the foreground, but gypsum sand! Conditions in the Tularosa Basin west of Alamogordo have resulted in the creation of the world’s largest gypsum dune fields, now preserved in White Sands National Monument. The glistening pure white dunes that have engulfed 275 square miles are geologically very young, having been deposited since the last ice age as recently as 6,500 years ago. Today the dunes are constantly changing shape and slowly moving downwind.The few plants that populate the dunes must be able to grow rapidly enough to avoid being buried in the shifting sands. The pink plant in the photo is Sand Verbena.

Image from New Mexico's Living Landscapes, by Bill Dunmire.

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