Alluvial Fan, China
A vast alluvial fan unfolds across the desolate landscape between the Kunlun and Altun mountain ranges that form the southern border of the Taklimakan Desert in China’s Xinjiang Province. The fan is about 60 kilometers long and 55 kilometers wide at its broadest point. The left side is the active part of the fan. Water flowing down from the mountains in the many small streams appears blue in this 2002 image from the Terra satellite. Vegetation appears red and can be seen in the upper left corner of the image. Farmers take advantage of water at the foot of the fan to irrigate small fields. The “lumpy” terrain at the top of the image is composed of sand dunes at the edge of the Taklimakan, one of the largest sandy deserts on Earth. Shifting sand dunes, some reaching as high as 200 meters, cover more than 80 percent of the desert floor.