Lut Desert

N30 12 58 E58 50 20
Date of Inscription: 2016
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Property : 2,278,015 ha
Buffer zone: 1,794,134 ha
Ref: 1505
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The Lut Desert, or Dasht-e-Lut, is located in the south-east of the country. Between June and October, this arid subtropical area is swept by strong winds, which transport sediment and cause aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. Consequently, the site presents some of the most spectacular examples of aeolian yardang landforms (massive corrugated ridges). It also contains extensive stony deserts and dune fields. The property represents an exceptional example of ongoing geological processes.

The Lut Desert is in the southeast of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an arid continental subtropical area notable for a rich variety of spectacular desert landforms. At 2,278,015 ha the area is large and is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,794,134 ha. In the Persian language ‘Lut’ refers to bare land without water and devoid of vegetation. The property is situated in an interior basin surrounded by mountains, so it is in a rain shadow and, coupled with high temperatures, the climate is hyper-arid. The region often experiences Earth’s highest land surface temperatures: a temperature of 70.7°C has been recorded within the property.

A steep north-south pressure gradient develops across the region in spring and summer causing strong NNW-SSE winds to blow across the area between June and October each year. These long periods of strong winds propel sand grains at great velocity creating transportation of sediment and aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. Consequently, the area possesses what are considered the world’s best examples of aeolian yardang landforms, as well as extensive stony deserts and dune fields. Yardangs are bedrock features carved and streamlined by sandblasting. They cover about one third of the property and appear as massive and dramatic corrugations across the landscape with ridges and corridors oriented parallel to the dominant prevailing wind. The ridges are known as kaluts. In the Lut Desert some are up to 155 m high and their ridges can be followed for more than 40 km.

The wind also strips hard rocky outcrops bare of soil, which leaves extensive stony desert pavements (hamada) with sand-blasted faceted stones (ventifacts) across about 12% of the area. An extensive, black stony desert covers the basaltic Gandom Beryan plateau in the northwest of the core zone. The stony deserts in eastern Lut cover, as a rubbly veneer, extensive pediplains, which are rock platforms that truncate bedrock and gently slope away from the foot of neighbouring hills.

Sands transported by wind and washed in by intermittent streams have accumulated in the south and east, where huge sand-seas have formed across 40% of the property. These areas consist of active dunes some reaching heights of 475 m and are amongst the largest dunes in the world. The Lut Desert displays a wide variety of forms, including linear-, compound crescentic-, star-, and funnel-shaped dunes. Where sands are trapped around the lee of plants at the slightly wetter margins of the basin, nebkhas form to 12 m or more in height, arguably being the highest such features in the world.

Dissolved minerals evaporated from incoming streams result in white efflorescences of crystals and evaporite crusts down river beds, in yardang corridors and in salt pans (playa). Small landforms result from the pressure effects of crystal growth, including salt polygons, tepee fractured salt crusts, small salt pingos (or blisters), salt karren and gypsum domes.

The region has been described in the past as a place of ‘no life’ and information on the biological resources in this area is limited. Nevertheless the property possesses flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions including an interesting adapted insect fauna.

Criterion (vii): The Lut Desert protects a globally-recognized iconic hot desert landscape, one of the hottest places on earth. It is renowned for its spectacular series of landforms, namely the yardangs (massive corrugated ridges) in the west of the property and the sand-sea in the east. The yardangs are so large and impressive that they can be seen easily from space. Lut is particularly significant for the great variety of desert landform types found in a relatively small area. Key attributes of the aesthetic values of the unspoilt property relate to the diversity and sheer scale of its landforms; a visually stunning mosaic of desert colours; and uninterrupted vistas across huge and varied dune systems that transition into large flat desert pavement areas.

Criterion (viii): The property represents an exceptional example of ongoing geological processes related to erosional and depositional features in a hot desert. The yardang/kalut landforms are widely considered the best-expressed in the world in terms of extent, unbroken continuity and height. The Lut sand-seas are amongst the best developed active dune fields in the world, displaying a wide variety of dune types (crescentic ridges, star dunes, complex linear dunes, funnel-shaped dunes) with dunes amongst the highest observed anywhere on our planet. Nebkha dune fields (dunes formed around plants) are widespread with those at Lut as high as any measured elsewhere. Evaporite (salt) landforms are displayed in wide variety, including white salt-crusted crystalline riverbeds, salt pans (playa) with polygonally fractured crusts, pressure-induced tepee-fractured salt crusts, gypsum domes, small salt pingos (or blisters), and salt karren. Other dry-land landforms include extensive hamada (stony desert pavements or reg) usually located on pediment surfaces with wind faceted stones (ventifacts), gullied badlands and alluvial fans (bajada).

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Golbaf (Romanized as Golbāf; also known as Gowk) is a city and capital of Golbaf District, in Kerman County, Kerman Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 8,341, in 2,039 families [read more].

Kerman is the capital of Kerman, in southeastern Iran. Kerman is a city with 677,650 inhabitants (2006), on a sandy plain, 1749 m above sea level. Kerman is the largest carpet producing and exporting center in Iran, and a large producer of pistachios on the world market. You can get around the city by taxi or bus. You can also go to the small towns such as Mahan, Shahdad, and villages such as Sirch, Zangi-Abad, by bus or taxi. See Mouyedi Ice-House – There are several small-gardens around this ice-house which were filled with the water in winter, then after that the water iced, the ices lead to the ice-house to use in summer. Jameh mosque – The Friday mosque. Conciled entrance from teh bazar, another entrance from the main street near Sohada square. Malek mosque (Imam mosque) – A gem of a mosque! National Library, housed in a former a textile factory. Museum of the Holy Defense [read more].

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