Dean M. Chriss
Gypsum Dunes and Snow
(Click image to enlarge)
The largest gypsum dunefield on earth seems endless on this brutally cold desert morning.
In this photograph blowing gypsum dust obscures the
horizon and softens distant features while sun passing through high altitude
dust adds a little warmth to the upper sky. The light and atmospheric conditions on this morning
were quite remarkable. Another photograph captured a little earlier on the same
morning can be seen here.
Rain in the nearby San Andres Mountains dissolves gypsum and washes it down
to the basin floor. The water settles on the basin floor at its lowest
point, called Lake Lucero. As the lake evaporates it leaves behind gypsum in
crystalline form. The smaller crystals are picked up by the wind and
deposited in the world's largest gypsum dunefield.