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About 26 km southwest of Alamogordo and just south of the White Sands Missile Range, in the state of New Mexico, the United States, is an immense area of snow-white sand. But unlike other desert, the sand here is not composed of quartz, but gypsum crystals.

Gypsum is one of the most common mineral compounds found on Earth but is rarely found in the form of sand, as it easily dissolves in water. Gypsum is often found in hot springs and in lake and sea water, and can occur as deposits when the water evaporates. And that’s precisely how the gypsum dunes at White Sands were formed.

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