Lut Desert

It is common among people to use the terms “desert” and “salt pan” interchangeably. Deserts are sometimes referred to as suburban and rural areas. But in fact, there is a fundamental difference between the two terms. Desert is defined as a part of arid regions where rainfall is less than 50 mm and it may not rain for several years with severe water shortages and evaporation and very poor vegetation. But salt pan refers to swelling clay lands with so much salt where plants can’t grow. As one of the deserts of Iran, Lut is a vast geographical area between the provinces of South Khorasan, Yazd, Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman with about 900 km length and 250 km width. Lut desert has a dry and dark surface that absorbs a lot of sunlight. That’s why MODIS described it as the hottest place on Earth at 70.7 degrees Celsius in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. Among the other deserts of Iran, Lut desert has many more fascinating sights. Thus, a large number of enthusiasts travel hundreds of miles each year to see the wonders of this desert. In the following, we will consider some tectonic phenomena in Lut desert.


lut desert



The most amazing part of Lut Desert is Yardang. It is located 43 km of Shahdad (a city in Iran) and seen from a distance, it looks like the buildings of a desolate city. It creates the hypothesis that the desert may have been habitable in the past. But it is not the case and in contrast to what it seems, there are no sign of agriculture and life in the area. According to the desert researchers and explorers, Yardangs have been formed by raining in the desert where water combines with the soil to form a paste. It is then dried and the wind blows away parts of it. Then pits and holes are gradually created in the form of corridors. Yardangs are seen in different sizes.





Dunes cover an area of 50 km wide and 100 km long to the East of central Lut. The height of these dunes is up to 500 meters. A special form of the dunes which moves in the same direction as the wind moves, is called barchan. They are formed when shifting sands at ground level are blocked by some barriers in their way, including plants, pieces of stone or natural factors such as wind speed reduction. Consequently, sand particles stop moving. These particles accumulate around the barriers and they are gradually increased. Eventually, the aggregation of these sand particles will form dunes. The larger the barriers of the desert, the taller the hills will grow. The hills do not remain constant in their own place and move in the same direction as the wind. The highest known dune in the world is located in deserts of Libya and it is 300 meters high. In Lut desert, some dunes sometimes reach as high as 480 meters. Therefore, the largest and highest dunes are formed in Lut desert in Iran. Dunes are often composed of quartz, but sometimes contain gypsum, lime, clay, volcanic ash and other materials. The presence of these materials in the dunes indicates their abundance in the area.


Dune lut desert



Although it is said that there is no animal and plant life in Lut Desert, desert adventurers have reported the existence of some animals and plants in the desert. A big question is that how these plants and animals survive the heat of the desert. A plant life found in Lut Desert is a phenomenon called Nabkha. Desert wind always carries particles of soil and sand. The soil and sand particles are sometimes blocked by the plants and settle around the plant. Desert plants use groundwater for their life. Consequently, the soil and sand around the plant absorb the moisture and the plant is forced to fight for survival and find its way out of the soil and sand. As the plant grows, it settles in the sand and sand remains around the plant as a mound. Researchers and desert experts consider Nabkha as a major barrier to surface winds and desertification.


Nabkha lut desert


Desert Nights

One of the wonders of Lut desert which is located in Iran is its starry sky. The night sky of the desert is like a paradise for astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts. Due to the lack of artificial light, cloud and dust, it is possible to observe stars, meteorites and even planets. So, if you are interested in spending a starry night in one of the most beautiful deserts of the world, don’t miss Lut Desert in Iran.

Located in the central part of Iran, the vast area of Lut Desert is near to major cities such as Tehran, Isfahan, Yazd, Kerman, Birjand, etc. and it has provided visitors several geomorphological and climatic environmental attractions. It also attracts many tourists from different parts of Iran and other countries.


Desert Nights lut desert