Alshan Plateau and Junggar Basin Semi-Deserts

Two major areas adjacent to the deep desert, the Alshan Plateau and the Junggar Basin, transition from barren sand to arid grasslands. The Little Gobi desert lies in the southwestern portion of the larger desert area. Higher and wetter, it fills the space between the Yellow River on the east and a mountain chain. It lies in one of the three great depressions caused by the stretching and lifting caused by the collision of continents. An inland sea probably filled this vast basin during the wet ice ages, but now it is filled with layers of clay and sand. The seemingly lifeless sand flats cover hundreds of square miles, utterly waterless with scarcely an oasis or a hint of green.

Only a handful of plants can grow in such harsh conditions, including a few types of bushes and a dozen grasses and herbs. A few other creatures eke out a living from those scattered grasses and shrubs, including antelopes, wolves, foxes, hares, hedgehogs, many lizards, and a few birds. Caught between two long ridges, the Junggar Basin is marked by a great swelling in the crust of Earth between the ridges. The small Ghashiun-Gobi salt desert is barren and lifeless. It seems made of broken remnants of the Earth, eroded mountains, sandy flats, salt soiled depressions, and shattered rock. Only a few hares, antelopes, and wild camels can survive, moving great distances to reach the limited areas with grass and shrubs.