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White Sands National Monument. New Mexico

One of the most amazing deserts in the world is located in the south of the United States; near the border with Mexico, between the mountains of Sacramento and the Rio Grande River. This snow-white place is called White Sands National Monument. And this white powdery substance is not the sand. The area of 700 square km consists of gypsum, or rather of its variety – selenite. Such a mineral is rapidly soluble in water and is rarely found on the planet.

There was a sea instead of a porcelain desert 100 million years ago. Under the scorching sun the sea became shallow, and then it was finally dried. The mountains began to form in surroundings; the crust solidified on the slopes of layers the selenite which was evaporated in the sun. Wind tore off the tiny pieces of selenite from the mountains and day by day it was creating a desert of sand grains of gypsum. Thus the white sands desert with length of 40 km long was formed.

Here is almost no vegetation, although rainfall is sufficient (nearly 200 millimeters per year). But the gypsum crystals are very light and are in constant motion, so the plant is not easy to take root. Here you can find a desert poplar and yucca – a close relative of magnolia. You can see more plants and some animals on the outskirts of the desert, where there is more moisture and the temperature is lower. In the depths of the “white sea” you can find only gray-white lizards, and such a rare type of rodents as gopher of also very pale color, in order not to stand out from the white background and thus hide from the birds of prey.




White Sands National Monument

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