Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 53, Issue 6, pp 905–914 | Cite as

High precision topographic data on Lop Nor basin’s Lake “Great Ear” and the timing of its becoming a dry salt lake

  • BaoGuo Li
  • LiChun Ma
  • PingAn Jiang
  • ZengQiang Duan
  • DanFeng Sun
  • HongLie Qiu
  • JunPing Zhong
  • HongQi Wu
Articles Geography


High precision elevation measurements using DGPS were carried out along three representative transects for the “Great Ear” area, a dry salt lake within the Lop Nor basin. Results indicate that the Lop Nor basin is only 5.2 m deep and its lowest point occurs at the center of the “Great Ear”. In addition, the basin is asymmetric — steeper in the southwest (0.19‰) and gentler in the northeast (0.09‰). Points along the same “Great Ear” ring were found to have an identical elevation value, but different when from different ones (lower towards the center). The spacing of the “Great Ear” rings was found to be closely related with the surface steepness. The closer the “Great Ear” rings are spaced, the steeper the ground surface, and vice versa. These findings support the argument that the “Great Ear” rings are the former shoreline trails left behind by Lop Nor water during the last few episodes of recession towards its total dry up. A comprehensive analysis of the high precision elevation data, historical accounts, aerial and satellite photographs and imagery, and official topographic maps of the study area suggests that the “Great Ear” area in the Lop Nor basin was incorrectly mapped as being covered by a great body of water on the 1963 topographic maps. A re-interpretation of the 1958 aerial photographs and newer remote sensing imagery indicated that the “Great Ear” ring structure was already in place in 1958 and it continued to appear on the subsequent remote sensing data without any major changes. It is estimated that lake water in the “Great Ear” area of the Lop Nor basin disappeared between the late 1930s and early 1940s.


Lop Nor “Great Ear” topographic characteristics latest drying time lake evolution 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • BaoGuo Li
    • 1
  • LiChun Ma
    • 1
    • 2
  • PingAn Jiang
    • 2
  • ZengQiang Duan
    • 1
  • DanFeng Sun
    • 1
  • HongLie Qiu
    • 3
  • JunPing Zhong
    • 2
  • HongQi Wu
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Resources and EnvironmentXinjiang Agricultural UniversityUrumqiChina
  3. 3.College of Natural and Social SciencesCalifornia State University-Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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