The desert of Lout, or Dasht-e-Lut, is in the south-east of Iran. Between June and October, this arid subtropical zone is swept by strong winds that carry sediments and cause wind erosion on a colossal scale. In fact, the site features some of the most spectacular examples of aeolian reliefs of yardangs (massive wavy ridges). It is also composed of vast stone deserts and dune fields. The property forms an outstanding example of ongoing geological processes.
Outstanding universal value of Lout Desert
The Desert of Lout is located in the south-east of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an arid subtropical continental area, notable for the rich diversity of its spectacular desert landforms. Covering 2,278,015 ha, this area is large and surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,794,134 ha. In Persian, "Lut" refers to barren land, devoid of water and vegetation. The property is located in an inner basin surrounded by mountains, that is to say in a rain shadow. This situation combined with very high temperatures gives a hyper-arid climate. The region often experiences the highest surface temperatures on Earth: a temperature of 70.7 ° C has been recorded in the property.
A steep north-south pressure gradient develops across the region in spring and summer with strong N-NW-S-SE winds blowing over the property between June and October each year. During these long periods, strong winds propel sand grains at high velocity, creating sediment transport and wind erosion on a colossal scale. As a result, the site has what are considered the world's best examples of yardangs' wind features, as well as vast stone deserts and dune fields. The yardangs are characteristics of the base, carved and profiled by the corrasion. They cover about a third of the property and appear as massive and spectacular undulations across the landscape, with ridges and furrows oriented parallel to the prevailing wind. The ridges are called kaluts. In the Desert of Lout, some measure up to 155 m high and can be followed for more than 40 km.
The wind also stripped hard rock outcrops, leaving vast rocky plateaus (hamadas) strewn with sandstone faceted stones on about 12% of the area. A vast black stone desert covers the Gandom Beryan basalt plateau in the northwest of the central zone. The stone deserts of the eastern Desert of Lout cover, in the form of stony varnish, vast pediplaines which are rocky platforms truncating the base and descending gently from the foot of the neighboring hills.
Sands carried by wind and leached by intermittent streams have accumulated in the south and east where vast sands of sand have formed on 40% of the property. These areas consist of active dunes, some of which reach 475 m high and are among the largest in the world. The Desert of Lout presents a great diversity of forms, these dunes being notably linear, in the form of composite crescent, star or funnel. Where the sands remain trapped at the base of the plants, on the slightly wetter margins of the basin, nebkhas are formed that are 12 m tall or more, and would be the tallest in the world.
The dissolved minerals, evaporated from the incoming streams, leave white crystal efflorescence and evaporite crusts in stream beds, yardangs, and salty depressions (playas). Small reliefs result from the pressure effects of crystal growth, including salty polygons, tepee-shaped fractured salt crusts, small salt pengos (or blisters), salted lapies, and gypsum domes.
The area was once described as a "lifeless" place and information on the living resources in this area is limited. Nevertheless, the property is home to a flora and fauna, including an interesting fauna of insects, who have adapted to this extreme environment.
- The Desert of Lout protects an iconic hot desert landscape, recognized worldwide, one of the hottest places on the planet. It is renowned for its spectacular reliefs, namely the yardangs (massive wavy ridges) to the west of the property and the erg to the east. The yardangs are so large and so impressive that you can easily see them from space. The Desert of Lout is particularly important for the great diversity of types of desert land found in a relatively small area. The key attributes of the aesthetic values of the intact property relate to the diversity and scale of the reliefs; a visually stunning mosaic of desert colors; and uninterrupted perspectives on vast and varied dune systems that are gradually merging into vast areas of rugged desert plateaus.
- The property is an outstanding example of ongoing geological processes related to erosion and deposition features in a hot desert. The reliefs of yardangs and kaluts are widely regarded as the best expressed in the world from the point of view of extension, uninterrupted continuity and height. The Desert de Lout ergs are among the most developed active dune fields in the world, with a wide variety of dune types (crescent-shaped ridges, star-shaped dunes, complex linear dunes, funnel-shaped dunes ) with dunes that are among the highest that can be observed anywhere on our planet. The dune fields of Nebkhas (dunes formed around plants) are widespread and those of the Desert of Lout are as high as any that can be measured on the planet. Evaporite (salt) reliefs are illustrated in very great diversity, including crystalline and white salt-crusted riverbeds, salty depressions (playas) with polygonally fractured crusts, fractured salt crusts in shape pressure-induced tipi, domes of gypsum, small pingos (or blisters) of salt and salt-laden ones. Other dry land features include large hamadas (rocky desert plateaus or regs) usually located on pediment surfaces with wind-shaped faceted stones, gullied badlands, and dejected cones (bajadas).