The Lut Desert, or Dasht-e-Lut, is located in southeastern Iran. Between June and October, this arid subtropical zone is swept away by strong winds that carry sediments and cause colossal wind erosion. The site has some of the most spectacular examples of aeolian yardangs (rocky ridges). It is also made up of vast stone deserts and dune fields. It is a prominent example of ongoing geological phenomena.
Covering an area of 2,278,015 hectares, this vast area is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,794,134 hectares. In Persian, the word Lut refers to the bare land, without water or vegetation. The area is located in a basin surrounded by mountains. The region often experiences the highest surface temperatures on Earth: a temperature of 70.7 ° C has been recorded.
The wind also carries away the hard rocky outcrops, leaving wide stony desert pavements (hamada) with sandblasted faceted (ventilated) stones on about 12% of the surface. A vast desert of black stone covers the basaltic plateau of Gandom Beryan in the northwestern part of the central zone. The stony deserts of the eastern part of the Lut cover, like a patina of wood, vast pediplanes, rocky platforms that cut through the bedrock and gently descend from the foot of the neighboring hills.
Windswept sands carried by intermittent currents have accumulated to the south and east, where huge seas of sand have formed over 40% of the territory. These areas are made up of many high dunes, among the largest in the world. The Lut Desert has a variety of shapes, including linear, crescent, star, and funnel-shaped dunes. Where sands become trapped in plants on the slightly damp edges of the basin, nebkas form up to 12 m high, probably the tallest in the world.
Dissolved and evaporated minerals by incoming streams make crystals bloom and evaporate crusts along riverbeds, sorting corridors, and salt marshes. Small morphologies are the result of the effects of crystal growth pressure, including salt polygons, tipi-shaped fractured salt crusts, small salt pingos, and gypsum domes. The area has been described in the past as a “lifeless” place and information on the biological resources of this area was limited. However, the area has flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions, including species of insects.
The Lut Desert offers a desert landscape, recognized throughout the world as one of the hottest places on the planet. It is known for its spectacular set of morphologies, namely the yardang, massive ridges, in the west of the region and the Sand Sea in the east.