Gypsum sand is rare, because it is water-soluble. Normally, rain would dissolve gypsum and the water solution created would drain to the ocean. However, when the Rio Grande Rift formed, the Tularosa Basin was isolated, cut off from the sea and ocean, with water runoff from the mountains pooling in the basin, forming a shallow, 1600 square mile lake that we now refer to as Lake Otero. During the last ice age, 12,000-24,000 years ago, the climate was wetter. Rain and snow melt was more abundant, washing vast quantities of gypsum from the mountains into the basin below. When the last ice age ended Lake Otero evaporated, becoming a dry lake bed, also known as a playa. The bed of the lake contained large amounts of selenite, the crystalline form of gypsum. As the climate became warmer and drier, Lake Otero dried up completely, leaving large tracts of selenite crystals just beneath the surface layer of clay and silt. The sun, wind and erosion began to work their magic, gradually transforming the area into the Chihuahuan Desert. Lake Lucero and Alkali Flat formed in place of Lake Otero. The Selenite crystals of Alkali Flat were exposed when wind carried the clay and silt away, with crystals as large as three feet exposed. Freezing and thawing broke the large crystals into smaller pieces. As the crystals became smaller, wind blew them across the desert floor, grinding them into finer particles, eventually grinding them into the white dunes we enjoy today.
A friendly game of Ultimate Kayak Frisbee with a group of 11th graders from @abqschools East Mountain High School at @sandialakesfishing. Got a youth group that loves the outdoors? We can teach 'em all about Kayaking through 1hr of high level instruction and 1hr of fun games Wednesday nights from 5:30-7:30pm Advanced registration is required. Visit www.newmexicokayakinstruction.com/ and "contact us" to book your group lesson!
Valles Caldera is a 13.7-mile wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains. Hot springs, streams, fumaroles, natural gas seeps and volcanic domes dot the landscape. The highest point in the caldera is Redondo Peak, an 11,253-foot resurgent lava dome located within the caldera (the hill next to the visitor center). Also within the caldera are several grass valley, the largest of which is Valle Grande (the photo is a small part of Valle Grande...it goes on and on). Use of Valles Caldera dates back to prehistoric times. Spear points dating to 11,000 years ago have been found in the caldera. Several Native American tribes frequented the caldera, often seasonally for hunting and for obsidian mining, used for spear and arrow points. Obsidian from the caldera was traded by tribes across much of the Southwest and has been found on the east and west coasts.
“Windy Day, All Day” - Weather forecast was for 80s with possible t-storms & small hail. Got some of that small hail & heard some thunder for about 15 minutes in late afternoon. Beautiful sunny breezy day otherwise. However, El Paso, TX area about 45 minutes away, got heavy hail like snow, flooding in homes, rock walls knocked down, etc! Here one of our hesperaloe/red yuccas bends with the wind in early afternoon (not a yucca tho, it’s an amazing & beautiful drought/heat resistant/tolerant succulent, & lots of them all over the Mesilla Valley because they are so pretty & heat tolerant) ... May 21, 2018.