Composition and source of dust entering Khuzestan province from an external origin

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Environment, Geological Survey of Iran

2 Department of Environment, Amirkabir University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Geology, Ferdowsi University, Mashhad, Iran

4 Department of Geology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

5 Department of Physical Jeography, Faculty of Geoscience, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

6 Agricultural and Natural Resources Research, Ahvaz, Iran


Khuzestan Province is one of the regions of Iran which has been most affected by the newfound phenomenon of dust storms due to recent droughts. Dust storms, which in some cases are considerably concentrated and accompanied by a reduction of horizontal view to 20 meters, causes various problems such as harmful effects to human health, absorption or dispersion of sunlight and affecting the region’s temperature, a negative impact on agricultural activities, reduced visibility and road transportation problems and tens of health, environmental and economically undesirable effects. So, due to the importance of the issue, a mineralogical and geochemical study of dust storms has been conducted in order to determine their probable sources, the environmental characterization of existing elements in dust and their role in polluting the environment.
Materials and methods:
In order to conduct dust sampling, a glass table was designed with edges to the height of 5 centimetres and an area of 1.5 square meters. In this matter, from April 2011 studies were conducted for 2 years in Khuzestan Province (Abadan, Ahvaz and Bostan). Through investigating previous studies and extracting the specified focuses, five sources have been identified for dust entering the country. 30 dust samples were collected and analyzed for elemental and mineralogical analysis conducted. The mineralogical analysis was conducted by using powdered samples and a Siemens XRD diffraktometer D5000 ICP-OES JY70 PLUS and an ICP Optical Emission Spectrometer (model Varian 735-ES) were utilized for elemental analysis. All the tests were conducted at the laboratories of the Geological Survey and Mineral Explorations of Iran.
Results and discussion:
According to previous studies, during finding sources through investigation over the period from 2011 to 2012, 50 sources were identified, namely that much of the dust storms which have affected Khuzestan Province during 2011 and 2012 originated from the following regions. Region 1: Northwest Iraq and eastern Syria, both sides of the Euphrates River (with at least 9 cases of dust storms over the 2 years). Region 2: wetlands and dried lands in southern Iraq (Mesopotamia) with at least 5 ases of dust storms in Khuzestan. Region 3: neighbouring and northerly lands of Lake Tharthar in Iraq with 4 cases of dust storms. Region 4: western areas of Iraq (Anbar Province) and eastern Syria (Hamus Province) with 3 cases of dust storm occurrences over two years. Region 5: northern borders of Saudi Arabia and the East of Jordan with 2 cases of dust storms during the period studied. Mineralogical studies of dust in the destination area showed that there are calcite, quartz, clay minerals and an insignificant amount of dolomite, gips and feldspar in the focus areas of regions 1, 3, 4; and halite, dolomite, quartz, and gypsum in the southern focus areas of Iraq (region 2). This, then, associates the sedimentary environment related to erosion and evaporation (dried lakes and wetlands and sediments of old lakes) as the geological source of these particles. Most of the heavy metals and toxic and radioactive elements in the dust are highly enriched. These enrichments are influenced by hydrocarbon materials and upstream processes of the oil industry, contamination caused by repeated wars and use of microbiological and chemical weapons containing radioactive elements, accumulation of clay particles due to the high absorption capacities of some of the heavy metals, drying up of wetlands and land of the source region and creating evaporating conditions, most of which is anthropogenic.
The storms entering Khuzestan Province derive from dried up wetlands and lakes and the sediments of old lakes and high enrichment, creating an unusual level of elements in dust due to the high absorption capacity of the elements into clay particles resulting from hydrocarbon materials. It is also caused by effects of the imposed war on Iran (with Iraq) and the drying of wetlands because of human activities.


  1. Alam, Kh., Trautmann, Th., Blaschke, Th. and Subhan, F., 2014. Changes in aerosol optical properties due to dust storms in the Middle east and Southwest Asia. Remote Sensing of Environment. 143, 216-227.
  2. Al-Dabbas, M.A., Ayad Abbas, M. and Al-Khafaji, R.M., 2010. Dust storms loads analyses Iraq. Arab Journal Geoscience. 5(1), 121-131.
  3. Al-Jumaily, K. and Ibrahim, M., 2013. Analysis of synoptic situation for dust storms in Iraq. International Journal of Energy and Environment. 4(5), 851-858.
  4. Azizi, Gh., Miri, M. and Nabavi, O., 2012. Tracing the phenomenon of dust in the western of Iran. Journal of Geographical Studies of Arid Zones. 7, 63-81. (In Persian with English abstract).
  5. Bagheri, H., Darvish bastami, K., Sharmad, T. and Bagheri, Z., 2013. Evaluation of distribution of heavy metal pollution in the gulf of Gorgan. Journal of Oceanography. 11, 65-72. (In Persian with English abstract).
  6. Bertina, H., Sayyad, G.A., Matinfar, H.R. and Hojati, S., 2014. Detection of the dust mass part of the middle east with MODIS sensor on the basis of spectral data. Journal of Study of Physical Geography. 45(4), 73-84. (In Persian).
  7. Bezi, A., Bomeri, M. and Rezaei, H., 2014. Characteristics of sedimentological and geochemical coast and bed deposits of the goiter bay, SE Iran. Journal of Oceanography. 18, 99-110. (In Persian with English abstract).
  8. Cong, Z., Kang, S., Liu, X. and Wang, G., 2007. Elemental composition of aerosol in the Nam Co region, Tibetan Plateau, during summer monsoon season. Atmos Environment. 41, 1180-1187.
  9. Darvishi khatooni, J., 2014. Khuzestan dust source identification with using Satellite images and Sedimentary Geochemistry. Internal report, Geological survey of Iran. P. 115. (In Persian with English abstract).
  10. Goudie, A. S., 2009. Dust storms: recent developments. Journal Environment Management. 90, 89-94.
  11. Khoshakhlagh, F., Najafi, M.S. and Samadi, M., 2012. An analysis on synoptic patterns of springtime dust occurrence in west of Iran. Geography Research. 2(80), 99-124.
  12. Kutuzov, S., Shahgedanova, M., Mikhalenko, V., Ginot, P., Lavrentiev, I. and Kemp, S., 2013. High-resolution provenance of desert dust deposited on Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus in 2009–2012 using snow pit and firn core records, The Cryosphere. 7, 1481-1498.
  13. Lateef, K., Mishaal, A. and Abud, M., 2015. The spatial distribution of dust sources in Iraq by using satellite images, International Journal of Energy and environment. 6(1), 27-36.
  14. Miri, A., Ahmdi, H., Ekhtesasi, M.R., Panjehkeh, N. and Ghanbarie, A., 2009. Environmental and socio-economic impacts of dust storms in Sistan Region, Iran. Journal of Environmntal Study. 66, 343-355.
  15. Mohammadi, A., 2010. Sedimentary geology and geochemistry of continental shelf in Oman sea report, Geological Survey of Iran. P. 150. (In Persian with English abstract).
  16. Najafi, M. S., Khoshakhllagh, F., Zamanzadeh, S. M., Shirazi, M. H., Samadi, M. and Hajikhani, S., 2013. Characteristics of TSP Loads during the Middle East Springtime Dust Storm (MESDS) in Western Iran. Arab Journal of Geoscience, 7(12), 5367–5381.
  17. Papadopoulos, P. and Rowell, D. L., 1988. The reactions of cadmium with calcium-carbonate surfaces, Soil Science. 39, 23-36.
  18. Potts, P. J., 1987. A Handbook of Silicate rock analysis. Blackie and Son Ltd. P. 549.
  19. Raeispour., K. 2008. Synoptic analysis the phenomenon of dust in Khuzestan. Master Thesis, University of Sistan and Baluchestan. P. 189. (In Persian with English abstract).
  20. Shahdadi, S. and Moslempour, I., 2012. Study of toxic elements contaminated sediments in the south east of Tehran with using principal component analysis and determine the pollution index. Journal of Ecology. 60, 137-148. (In Persian with English abstract).
  21. Shen, Z. X., Caquineauc, S., Cao, J., Zhangb, X., Hana, Y., Gaudichetd, A. and Gomese, L., 2009. Mineralogical characteristics of soil dust from source regions in northern China. Particuology. 7, 507–512.
  22. Sinha, R. and Raymahashay. B. C., 2004. Evaporite mineralogy and geochemical evolution of the Sambhar Salt Lake, Thar desert, Rajasthan, India. Sediment Geology. 166, 59-71.
  23. Tarahhom jou, Z. and Haji azizi, Sh., 2013. Assessment of dust normalized difference index with the MODIS data in south west Iran. 32nd National and 1st International Geosciences Symposium, Tehran, Iran. (In Persian).
  24. Taylor, S. R. and McLennan, S. M., 1995. The geochemical evolution of the continental crust. Reveiw Geophysic. 33, 241-265.
  25. Zarasvandi, A., Carranza, E. J. M., Moore, F. and Rastmanesh, F., 2011. Spatiotemporal occurrences and mineralogical–geochemical characteristics of airborne dusts in Khuzestan Province (southwestern Iran). Journal of Geochemical Exploration. 111, 138-151.
  26. Zezoli, M. F., Vafaei nezhad, A. R., Kheirkhah Zarkesh, M. and Ahmadi Dehka, F., 2014. Synoptic monitoring and analysis of the phenomenon of dust using remote sensing and GIS (Case Study: Dust June 18, 2012). Scientific - Research Quarterly of Geographical Data (SEPEHR). 23(91), 69-80. (In Persian with English abstract).