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Lut Desert

Kerman, Iran

The big desert of Lut is situated in the eastern region of Iran. It is part of the northern of the two deserts belts which encircle the Earth. The Sun heats these two belts of land more than any other part of Earth and creates deserts. A NASA satellite recorded surface temperatures as high as 71 °C (159 °F), the hottest surface temperature recorded on Earth.
There are reports that no living creature can survive for long in this region, with Lut generally considered an abiotic zone, being so forbidding that not even bacteria can live. Research groups took sterilized milk into the Lut desert, stored it uncovered in temperatures in excess of 71 °C (159 °F) in the shade and yet, the milk remained sterile.

The Lut Desert consists of several large basins separated by worn mountains and ridges, covering an area of about 200 by 100 miles, with the western part containing wind-swept corridors separating high ridges. The east is a sea of sand, described by Alfons Gabriel, one of the first explorers, in 1938, as “a confused mass of impassable tangled dunes.” Winds pile the sand into dunes up to 500 feet high, as tall as Washington’s monument.

The uniqueness of the desert is assured by an abundance of typical phenomena. The longest widespread system of yardangs in the world (120 km long in 80 km wide), the hottest point in the world, as detected by satellite data and the tallest sand pyramid of the world (500 meters high) are only a fraction of the wonders this desert has to offer.

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