White Sands National Monument protects a small part of a 275 square miles (710 square kms) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum. Gypsum dunes are rare because gypsum is water-soluble, so in general rain dissolves it and carry it to the sea. However, the Tularosa Basin, site of White Sands National Monument has no outlet to the sea. White Sands National Monument is part of a missile range, and borders the site where the first nuclear bomb was detoned.
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