The Tengger Desert is located in Inner Mongolia and is the fourth largest desert in China. The interior of the desert is a typical sand sea (Fig. 1) with dunes and several oases. There are also occasional lakes.
Fig 1. Sand dunes in the Tengger desert looking out onto a sand sea, with Zhang for scale.
The edges of the desert are more vegetated and often farmed (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2. Edge of the Tengger Desert showing the types of vegetation present.
Chen et al. (2007) suggest that the Tengger Desert is one of the sources for the loess in the Chinese Loess Plateau based on bulk sediment Nd and Sr data. However, Stevens et al. (2010,2013) suggest that this desert cannot be the only source of the loess based on zircon U-Pb data. The zircon U-Pb probability plot is shown in Fig. 3 and only has one dominant peak at 280 Ma unlike the loess which has two peaks, one at 280 Ma and another ~480 Ma.
Fig. 3. Zircon U-Pb probability plot from a sample from the eastern part of the desert.
Chen, J., Li, G., Yang, J., Rao, W., Lu, H., Balsam, W., Sun, Y. & Ji, J. 2007. Nd and Sr isotopic characteristics of Chinese deserts: Implications for the provenances of Asian dust. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71, 3904-3914.
Stevens, T., Palk, C., Carter, A., Lu, H. & Clift, P.D. 2010. Assessing the provenance of loess and desert sediments in northern China using U-Pb dating and morphology of detrital zircons. Geological Society of America Bulletin.
Stevens, T., Carter, A., Watson, T., Vermeesch, P., Ando, S., Bird, A.F., Lu, H., Garzanti, E., Cottam, M. & Sevastjanova, I. 2013. Genetic linkage between the Yellow River, the Mu Us desert and the Chinese Loess Plateau. Quaternary Science Reviews.