Playas: Erosional Landforms
Plains are by far the most prominent landforms in the deserts. It is a dry, vegetation-free, flat area at the lowest part of an undrained desert basin. In basins with mountains and hills around and along, the drainage is towards the center of the basin and due to gradual deposition of sediment from basin margins, a nearly level plain forms at the center of the basin. It is a location where ephemeral lakes form during wet periods, and is underlain by stratified clay, silt, and sand, and commonly, soluble salts.
In limes of sufficient water, this plain is covered up by a shallow water body. Such types of shallow lakes are called as playas where water is retained only for short duration due to evaporation and quite often the playas contain good deposition of salts. It is the flat-floored bottom of an undrained desert basin that becomes at times a shallow lake. The playa plain covered up by salts is called alkali flats.