Eastern Gobi Desert Steppe

The region most typically desert is the Eastern Gobi desert steppe, which covers some 109,000 square miles (281,800 sq km) and extends from the Inner Mongolian plateau in China north into Mongolia. High and cold with elevations from 2,300 to 5,000 feet (770–1,700 m), this region gets as much as eight inches (200 mm) of rain a year, roughly twice the rainfall of other portions of the Gobi. Although that is not enough rain to sustain actual surface rivers, underground rivers do flow through the porous sands and great basins. These rivers feed springs and wells, which makes this region much easier to settle than the rest of the Gobi. To the north, the Eastern Gobi gives way to the high grasslands that spawned the Mongols and the world-conquering Genghis Khan. The Eastern Gobi consists of broad flat basins separated by low mountain ranges, broad tablelands, and flat plains. Some of the low, stretched, and slumping basins between the worn and weary mountains sometimes catch enough runoff to create lakes, often heavy with salt and dissolved minerals from the millions of years of runoff and evaporation.