Iran is climatically part of the Afro-Asian belt of deserts that stretch from the Cape Verde islands off West Africa all the way to Mongolia near Beijing, China. The patchy, elongated, light-colored feature in the foreground (parallel to the mountain range) is the northernmost of the Dasht dry lakes that stretch southward 300 kilometers (186 miles). In near-tropical deserts, elevated areas capture most precipitation. As a result, the Dasht-e Lut is generally considered to be an abiotic zone.
Iran's geography consists of a plateau surrounded by mountains and divided into drainage basins. Dasht-e Lut is one of the largest of these desert basins, 480 kilometers (300 miles) long and 320 kilometers (200 miles) wide, and also one of the driest and hottest. A NASA satellite recorded surface temperatures in the Lut desert of Iran as high as 71 °C (159 °F), the hottest temperature ever recorded on the surface of the Earth. This region which covers an area of about 480 kilometers is called Gandom Beriyan (the toasted wheat). Its surface is wholly matted with black volcano lava. This dark cover absorbs excessive sunshine which due to difference of temperature with neighboring elevations forms a wind tunnel. There are reports that no living creature lives in this region. Dasht-e Lut has an area of about 51,800 square kilometers (20,000 mi²). The other large basin is the Dasht-e Kavir. During the spring wet season, water briefly flows down from the Kerman mountains, but it soon dries up, leaving behind only rocks, sand, and salt.
The eastern part of Dasht-e Lut is a low plateau covered with salt flats. In contrast, the center has been sculpted by the wind into a series of parallel ridges and furrows, extending over 150 km (90 miles) and reaching 75 m (250 ft) in height. This area is also riddled with ravines and sinkholes. The southeast is a vast expanse of sand, like a Saharan erg, with dunes 300 m (1000 ft) high, among the tallest in the world.