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Samalayuca Desert, Mun. de Ahumada, Chihuahua, Mexico

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 31° 25' 23'' North , 106° 26' 36'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 31.42306,-106.44361
Köppen climate type:BSk : Cold semi-arid (steppe) climate
Name(s) in local language(s):Desierto de Samalayuca, Mun. de Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua, México

Samalayuca is a small town on the Juarez-Chihuahua highway roughly 50 km south of El Paso-Juarez. The town's main claim to fame is a huge thermoelectric generator plant, visible from a long distance. South and east of the town lie the Samalayuca Dune Fields (Medanos) that feature star and barchan dunes up to 50m high. The sand comes from Laguna Guzman (aka Barreal Guzman) that lies just to the west. A popular site for filming used for "Dune" and "Conan the Destroyer".

Just north of the town, and less than 100m off the highway are old playa lake deposits where distinctive spherical aggregates of bladed tan-colored gypsum crystals ("desert roses"), often heavily included with sand, have been found. Specimens range from single balls up to 6 cm in diameter to clusters of intergrown balls weighing many tens of kilograms. Specimens have been mined in large quantities for many years and are a staple of rock shop inventory. The roses are often toasted with a blow torch to dehydrate the edges of the bladed crystals. This both hides damage to the edges and gives them a white edge that contrasts with the overall tan color of the gypsum.

Mineral List

1 valid mineral.

Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on

Early Cretaceous
100.5 - 145 Ma

ID: 2430257

Age: Early Cretaceous (100.5 - 145 Ma)

Lithology: Limestone

Reference: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática. Conjunto de Datos Vectoriales Geológicos. Continuo Nacional. Escala 1:1’000,000. [63]

Data and map coding provided by, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

This page contains all mineral locality references listed on This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


Pike, Zebulon Montgomery, Edited by Elliott Coues (1895, edited and reprinted from the 1810 printing). The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike: Arkansaw Journey. Mexican Tour. New York, NY, pp. 648-652: Francis P. Harper.

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