gypsum sand


Here’s an exclusive look at the letter The Killers will deliver to County Commissioners in advance of Wednesday’s hearing to support the fight to #SaveRedRock:

As members of The Killers, we don’t usually get involved in local politics. But in 2011, when a developer proposed to build new homes for more than 14,000 residents on a property right in the middle of Red Rock Canyon, we spoke out against it.

Now that same developer is back asking County Commissioners once again to approve a sprawl development surrounded on three sides by Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

This development (the size of Boulder City) will eliminate the dark night sky in Red Rock and remove our natural canyon skyline. Also, constructing this many homes on fine gypsum sand (the site of the old gypsum plant) may cause a great deal of dust in Red Rock Canyon.

Finally, this much building has projected more than 20 years of construction traffic on our scenic highway, threatening bicyclists and impairing the amazing views from the Red Rock Scenic Loop.

Every week that we aren’t on tour, one or more members of our band is hiking Turtlehead Peak, rock climbing at Red Rock or visiting Bonnie Springs. We grew up in Las Vegas and have spent countless hours on trails out here. Who doesn’t love Red Rock?

We can’t imagine anyone not wanting to stop this destruction of one of our community’s most special places. Let’s not allow yet another developer to tear down another piece of our history and culture.

We encourage our fans to join us in speaking out against this unwise proposal and ask County Commissioners to preserve Red Rock for future generations.

— Brandon Flowers, Ronnie Vannucci, Mark Stoermer, Dave Keuning

via Las Vegas Review Journal

While the project has already gathered the goal number of signatures for their petition, you can donate to the cause at if interested.

White Sands is a truly incredible place, I just went there a few days ago and am excited to see the film!  For now here’s one from a trip I took there last year.  The gypsum sand is so fine and purely white, making for some of the best looking sand ripples I have seen.  The hues around sunrise and sunset were colors I had never seen before in nature.  This soaptree yucca was growing on top of a dune, captured during that special moment of light as the sun was just halfway above the clouds on the horizon.

Shot Notes:

Provia 100f 4x5, 210mm lens
1 second at f45, polarizing and warming filters

Lightning rips through the sky over White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Here, great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. Photo courtesy of Donald Palansky. 

The Signs as Breathtaking, Natural Phenomena

Aries: A Blue Volcano (in Ethiopia). The glow comes from the combustion of sulfuric gases that are pushed through the cracks of the volcano at high temperatures.

Taurus: Wave Rock (located in Australia). That’s right, this is a 46 inch wave cemented entirely in rock! This geological phenomenon is known as flared slope and it usually occurs when erosion is concentrated in lower areas of the rock. Surf’s up! This rock is strong, deep, and carefully made- reminiscent of a Taurus.

Gemini: Nacreous Clouds. These are clouds that give a very futuristic, holographic look to the sky. These incredible clouds are extremely rare, because normally, the stratosphere is quite dry and clouds cannot form. But in extreme polar winters, there’s just enough moisture for these strange clouds to take form about 12 miles above Earth. Intriguing, Gorgeous, and new- just like all of you Gems!

Cancer: Glowing Ocean (Vaadhoo Island). These patches of ocean literally reflect the starry night sky. It’s gorgeous. According to marine biologists, the glowing is caused by a massive red tide of bioluminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum.The microorganisms emit light in response to stress, such as when a wave crashes into the shore. The result is a wickedly cool glowing ocean. Romantic and dreamy, like the Cancer zodiac’s nature.

Leo: “Fire Rainbow”, or circumhorizontal arc. This appears when the sun is high in the sky (higher than 58° above the horizon), and its light passes through diaphanous, high-altitude cirrus clouds made up of hexagonal plate crystals. Sunlight entering the crystals’ vertical side faces and leaving through their bottom faces is refracted (as through a prism) and separated into an array of visible colors. Beautiful and bold, just like you Leo!

Virgo: Lake Hillier (located in Australia). This lake is flamingo pink for no definite reason. It’s just… a pink lake. The cause of this phenomenon’s color is assumed to be the reaction between its natural salts, sodium bicarbonate and red halophilic bacteria. It’s kind of cute, actually. It looks so simple in it’s entirety, it makes me wish more lakes were pink for no reason. It’s cuteness, humbleness, and simplicity definitely reminded me of all the Virgos.

Libra: Desert roses. These beauties are made in the desert from formations of the minerals gypsum  and barite with sand inclusions. The ‘petals’ are crystals flattened,  fanning open along characteristic gypsum cleavage planes. This phenomenon has a stunning beauty, it could almost be a real rose! All you Libras are adorable little flowers too, don’t worry.

Scorpio: The Black Sun (Denmark) During spring in Denmark, flocks of more than a million European starlings gather into a single group to form incredibly large and intricate shapes in the sky. The amazing scenes are only possible because of the flock’s amazing communication and coordination. They’re complex, focused, dark, and beautiful- much like the Scorpio persona.

Sagittarius: Auroras. An aurora is a natural light display in the sky predominantly seen in the high latitude regions. Aurorae are caused by cosmic wind, solar rays, and magnetospheric plasma interacting with the upper atmosphere. Lots of light, lots of beauty, and lots of pow- kind of like when Sagittarius walks into the room. ;)

Capricorn: Frozen methane bubbles. Methane bubbles form in water when dead organic matter falls to the bottom, much to the delight of bacteria. When methane gets trapped in frozen water, viola! Just don’t light a match to these- since it’s methane gas, that could get very bad very quickly. That’s kind of why I associated these with Capricorn folk- they’re elegant looking and cool, but also cold (ha- literally and in character). They’re also prone to combust. Jk about that last part. Humans don’t combust. What I meant by that was that Capricorn can be very dangerous, despite their calm and collected ways.

Aquarius: Danxia Landform (located in China). It is a unique type of petrographic geomorphology found in China. Danxia landform is formed from red-coloured sandstonesand conglomerates of largely Cretaceous age. The landforms look very much like karst topography that forms in areas underlain by limestones, but since the rocks that form danxia are sandstones and conglomerates, they have been called “pseudo-karst” landforms. Lots of vibrant, beautiful colors here! No pale pastel today! This phenomenon reminds me of Aquarius’ unique, artistic nature. This landform breathes the life into me. Simply breathtaking.

Pisces: A Brinicle. When the surface of the sea freezes—such as around the north and south poles—it does so in a way that forces pockets of especially cold and salty seawater to gather on the underside of the ice. This mixture of brine is denser than the seawater below it, and as a result it tends to slowly sink to the bottom. Now, because it’s so cold, the fresher water below the brine actually freezes around it as it falls, which results in a giant icicle under the surface. That’s what a Brinicle is. It’s like a pretty, still underwater tornado. :) This reminds me of Pisces because it has that slow motion, under the sea vibe. It’s relaxing, perplexing, but also has this really languid dreamy feeling to it. It’s fit for all of you adorable fish!


A time-lapse visit to White Sands, New Mexico, during a particularly windy day. Some neat shots of the gypsum sands being lofted at about a minute in, followed by a good view of ripples migrating across the surface of sand dunes. The last half features really good shots of stationary clouds forming over the desert from wind currents and visits from star fields and the milky way.


The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1975. In the movie David Bowie plays the role of an alien who leaves his arid home planet in search of water. When he departs from his alien family he does so via this A-shaped tracked vehicle. The scenes were filmed among the white gypsum sand dunes of White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, in southern New Mexico


Public Lands/ Exploration/ Road Trip/ Throwback/ Adventure

White Sands, New Mexico.

The light changed so fast. We passed through the gates minutes before closing, just in time to catch sunset. Heavy clouds overhead; one minute the world was pink, the next purple, and finally blue. The wind picked up and rain pelted us as we left. 

The next day afforded more time to explore, white gypsum sand clumped together in little kernels where it had been soaked the night before.

Welp as I was saying… GEMSONA WOOO

Gender: Genderless
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Height: 5’5”
Weapon: White Bo Shurikens with a small orange fabric tip. Just uses them on last case, likes fighting with bare hands using her agility. Can also move sand around, to 3 times her weight, uses this for hiding moving quickly over sand and holding a shield for some short time.
Gem Type: Desert Sand Rose (gypsum formation)
Likes: Exploring, exercising, Sunlight and warmth.
Dislikes: Wet and Cold, having to stay still for a long time, too much clothes and being called small or weak, people lying to her.
Personality: Very energetic and likes to challenge herself. She would do things she dislikes a whole bunch just to prove youre wrong, courageous, adventurous and leal. 
She also drops some sand when she walks and move around, the more she moves more sand will fall from her hair and clothes, (quite bad for keeping the house clean pfff) because of that she usually stays on the outside and prefers to live on open places.

White Sands

Millions of years ago, before the continents separated, the Permian sea covered most of the southwestern United States. Layers of gypsum were deposited on the seabed as the sea level rose and fell. Over time the sea vanished. Plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes form the mountain ranges of New Mexico. Rain and snow-melt from those mountains fill Lake Lucero with gypsum-laden water.

Lake Lucero is a playa: a dry lake that periodically fills with water. When the gypsum-laden water evaporates under the hot sun, selenite crystals form in the mud. Wind and water break down these crystals into smaller and smaller particles. The wind pushes the particles across the desert floor, grinding them into fine grains of white gypsum sand.

The formation of sand at Lake Lucero and Alkali Flat is on a smaller scale than it was when Lake Otero existed, but Lake Lucero and Alkali Flat are the primary sources of new dunes at White Sands.

The gypsum doesn’t have the silica associated with regular sand. It doesn’t retain heat in the same way that sand on a beach does. In fact the ‘sand’ at White Sands couldn’t exist on a beach, because water breaks down gypsum, more or less melting it. If you dig into the sand at White Sands, it is usually cool just beneath the surface, with the gypsum retaining water.

Beyond the extraordinary geology, White Sands is consistently photogenic, surrounded by mountains with spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Sledding at White Sands is a local past time, though if you go during the summer, please be aware of heat and hydration. The dry climate tends to evaporate perspiration. It is easy to become dehydrated, because you aren’t aware of how much water you are losing absent perspiration. Temperatures are commonly over 100 during the summer.

In the summer my preference is to stay in Cloudcroft or Ruidoso to take advantage of lower temperatures (9000 foot elevation, alpine environment), heading to White Sands for the sunset (only about a 30 minute drive from Cloudcroft), go on a full moon hike if possible, and head back up to higher elevations before the sun comes back up.

White Sands is currently under consideration by UNESCO for World Heritage designation (natural). If it is deemed a UNESCO site, it will be New Mexico’s 4th.