Kharan is also called the ‘Sandy Desert’ and is located in the Province of Balochistan. It covers an area of about 48,051 sq. km. It is basically covered with sand dunes, scrub vegetation and weathered rocks. Rainfall is very scarce in the desert leaving it with dry lakes.
The largest dry lake of Balochistan is located in this desert called Hamun-i-Mashkel. The water of Kharan basin is entirely used for agriculture and domestic use and thus it is also called ‘closed basin’.
The desert consists of moving sand dunes reaching heights from 15 to 30 meters with an underlay of pebble floor. The areas between these dunes are hard when its dry and when it is wet it is sandy and treacherous.
There is a huge barren area of this desert which comes in the territory of half of Iran with a continuation of waste land in Pakistan. This is a continuous stretch of total barren land from the Alborz Mountains in the northern direction to the plateau in Balochistan around 1200 kilometers to the southeast.
The altitude of this desert moves from about 1000 m in the north to approximately 250 m in the southwest. The average rainfall in the desert is about 100 mm annually. The entire area of the desert has inland drains and dry lakes.
A lake basin in Iran called Gowd-e-Zereh gets excessive drainage and it is separated from the Kharan desert in Pakistan by the hills of low Chaghai. It causes the river Mashkel to form a lake with the highlands which surrounds Koh-e-Tafta’n the great volcano.
The 85 kilometer long and 35 kilometers wide area of the surface of the Hamun-i-Mashkel is filled with sun cracked clay, salty marshes, moving sand dunes and oxidized pebbles. This part is known for its sudden sand storms and constant mirage.