Dean M. Chriss
Gypsum Dunes and Snow, Landscape Photograph by Dean M. Chriss

Gypsum Dunes and Snow

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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.