of geography and climate, the boundless desert
was formed in Xinjiang, China. After the Silk
Road had been formed, the trade caravan passed
through it difficultly and many people died
in this desert and many legends had been eulogized.
So this area was covered with the mysterious
are no flying birds, and the white bones are
seen anywhere”. On the abominable condition,
the tribes are moving on the Gobi and fighting
for the resource continuously. The sand covered
lots of ancient cities. The geographer, rocksys
and archaeologists in various countries admired
and coveted the ancient and mysterious cultural
relics, and they investigated and explored it.
During one hundred years, they raised the tendency
of researching and exploring it.
in the south of continuous Tianshan Mountains,
and the east of Taklimakan Desert in Tarim Basin,
there was a drying lake billabong and it was
Lop Nur. People customarily regarded Lop Nur
and surrounding area as Lop Nur billabong. Its
generalized area was Beishan Mountains as its
east boundary, connecting with Taklimakan Desert
west, Arjin Mountains and Kuruktag Mountains
respectively as its southern and northern boundaries.
This area was in the east longitude 88°to 92°and
north latitude 39°30’ to 39°41’ and its acreage
was nearly one hundred thousand s.q.km.
this wide area, its landform included three
parts: plain in front of the mountain, alluvion-lake
plain, and lake plain. On the earth's surface,
the natural landscape included conglomerate
Gobi, desert, salt desert, and wind-erosion
survival massif. The proportion of alluvion
plain and plowland on the oasis was little.
The southern hypsography was higher than the
north and the east and the west were higher
than the drying river and the lakebed billabong.
billabong of Lop Nur was located in the hinterland
of European-Asian continent, which was in the
east end of relatively close Tarim Basin. The
weather was very arid and the annual average
rainfall was 17-20mm only, but the evaporation
was more than 3,000 mm. The windy season was
from February to June each year and the wind
direction was mainly the northeaster. There
was a gale every 3-5 days. The summer was broiling
and the air temperature was from 40-50℃. The
winter was fine and dry, and there was no snow
covered with ground.
scientists researched and thought that the dry,
hot, rainless and windy weather had formed for
a long time. It had formed at the end of Tertiary
and at the beginning of the Quaternary Period.
The scientists analyzed the gesso sediment,
salt sediment and the ancient plants in the
Quaternary Period and made a conclusion, the
environment had changed for twenty thousand
and the dry climate had not changed, and it
was still the desert climate. Because of human’s
economic activities development of agriculture
and population, the dry natural environment
had exacerbated and the desert had formed.
the glide moved them and the wind eroded them,
the gravel on the earth’s surface was thick.
Because of the continuous erosion of the wind,
there were many 20-40 meters massif, rock and
earth pillar in this area.
the unattached geographical unit, the conformation
of Lop Nur billabong was the same as the Tarim
Basin and it had been changed at the end of
Trias in Mesozoic hundreds of millions of years.
Lop Nur showed the status of countermovement
compared with the surrounding area and it formed
the comparison landform. So there were two opposite
physiognomies: wide billabong and hilly country
with high surrounding area. Lop Nur had been
the center of collecting water in Tarim Basin.
The lowest point of the billabong was 780 meters
above sea level and it was the lowest area in
were landforms with many massifs and dongas
in the east, north and west of the billabong.
It was the “Yadan” landform we often mentioned.
word “Yadan” was transliterated from the ancient
Uygur word “Yar”, meant “cliff”. Since the end
of 19th century, some researchers had used the
word “Yadan” to describe the landform with many
massifs and dongas, and this had been gradually
accepted by the academe. It continued to be
used until now.
record of this landform was recorded in Shui
Jing Zhu (Commentary on the Waterways Classic)
written by Li Daoyuan in the period of Northern
Wei Dynasty. The author described the “Long
City” as that the wind eroded it into the figure
of dragon and it faces the southwest. So its
name is Long City.” He thought that the natural
landform had been formed in the influence of
water and wind.
landform of “Yadan” in Lop Nur was divided into
four parts, including one in the lower reaches
of Konqi River, another in Bailongdui, the third
in Sanlongsha and the forth in 阿奇克 Valley.
landform “Yadan” in the lower reaches of Konqi
River mainly included Long City and Kroraina.
Its range was nearly 40 kilometers from the
east to the west and 160 kilometers from the
south to the north. Its acreage was 6,400 s.q.km.
In this area, the landform “Yadan” was made
up of earth, sand and rock. The height of the
massifs and dongas was from 20 meters to 25
meters and the length was from 30 meters to
1930’s, Chinese old scientist Chen Zongqi investigated
Lop Nur. He called the large difference of the
landform height “Maisai” and called the small
difference of the landform height “Yadan”. He
thought the former was in early age and the
latter was in late age.
landform “Yadan” of Bailongdui was in the northeast
of Lop Nur. Its width was 20 kilometers from
the east to the west and its length was about
80 kilometers from the south to the north. The
acreage was 1,600 s.q.km. In this area, the
length of the massifs was from over 200 meters
to 500 meters and the massifs were made up of
the offwhite earth and sand. It looked like
some large dragons paddling in the lake. Standing
on the bank, your ears were reverberated with
Valley and Sanlongsha were located in the east
of Lop Nur and people got used to call it lower
reaches valley of Shule River. It was connected
with Dunhuang east. In here, the landform “Yadan”
area is not large. The plain sandlot and Gobi
was the main landform in this area. This area
was called “Moheyanqi” in Chinese ancient materials
and Xuan Zang wrote in the Tales of the Triple-Text
Master in Great Loving-Kindness Temple, that
the length of Moheyanqi is over 800 li. Its
name was Shahe in ancient time. There are no
flying birds and beasts and float grass. At
night, there are many monsters and mysterious
fire. The wind sweeps the stones, like the heavy
of the conformation movement of Quaternary Period,
Lop Nur became the terminal of all rivers in
Tarim Basin and the center of collecting the
salt. So this brought up the special shell and
the rule of collecting the salt.
from the picture sent by American satellite,
there were many circle-shaped figure around
Lop Nur and they liked human’s ears. The geologists
called them “circle line” or “helix line”.
on earth was the so-called “helix line”? Someone
thought it was the bank of Lop Nur. During 1980
to 1981, Xinjiang Branch of Chinese Academy
of Sciences set up a integrate investigation
team to enter Lop Nur three times and investigated
Lop Nur and made a new analysis report of the
character of helix line.
scientists thought that the lake water in various
periods spent different time to dry up, so the
shell of various form, ingredient and color
formed in the process of collecting salt. The
washy circle line was the thick ramous shell
and the dark circle line was the thin ramous
history, Lop Nur was a low and wet salt marsh.
In ancient Chinese historical records, Lop Nur
had other names such as Puchang Sea, Yanze and
Aoze. In Tales of Western Regions, the Han Dynasty,
Sea, another name is Yanze. It is over 300 li
away from Yumen Pass and Yang Pass. Its range
is 300 li. The water doesn’t change, so we think
it prowls under the ground and gets out of Jishi.
It is called Chinese river.
River Water, Shui Jing Zhu described, “the salt
is hard and the passengers dig up the ground
and find the large salt bed”.
Lop Nur became the center of collecting water
in Tarim Basin, Tarim River, Konqi River, Qarqan
River, Washixia River, Ruoqiang River, and Milan
River entered the Lop Nur. And the Shule River
in the east had entered Lop Nur. The area that
these rivers passed through continuously dissolved
soil and efflorescent salt, and then moved them
into the billabong. Except water gathering on
the surface, the underground water also gathered
here. The long-tem evaporation and inspissation
was the reason that the hard salt shell formed
in Lop Nur.
fact, Lop Nur had go through the process of
collecting water and drying up since the lake
formed. At first, the range of Lop Nur was large
and it had gradually reduced until it dried
up. The various kinds of salt shells formed
in the various stages of Lop Nur’s evolvement.
Seeing from the various salt shells—circle lines
that were the mark of evolvement, Lop Nur backed
from the east to the west. There was no track
of movement. What was the so-called moving lake?
by Beijing Star-light Translation Center
Compiled by Historical Department of www.travel-silkroad.com
December 31st, 2000