Dead Sea

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For the novel, see Dead Sea (novel).
Dead Sea
Dead Sea by David Shankbone.jpg
A view from the Israeli side looking across to Jordan
Coordinates 31°30′N 35°30′E / 31.500°N 35.500°E / 31.500; 35.500Coordinates: 31°30′N 35°30′E / 31.500°N 35.500°E / 31.500; 35.500
Lake type Endorheic
Hypersaline
Primary inflows Jordan River
Primary outflows None
Catchment area 41,650 km2 (16,080 sq mi)
Basin countries Israel
Jordan
Syria
Lebanon
Palestine
Egypt
Max. length 50 km (31 mi)[1]
Max. width 15 km (9.3 mi)[1]
Surface area 600 km2 (230 sq mi)
Average depth 200 m (656 ft)[2]
Max. depth 306 m (1,004 ft)
Water volume 114 km3 (27 cu mi)[2]
Shore length1 135 km (84 mi)
Surface elevation −427 m (−1,401 ft)[3]
References [2][3]
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

The Dead Sea (Hebrew: יָם הַ‏‏מֶּ‏‏לַ‏ח, Yām HaMélaḥ, "Sea of Salt", also Hebrew: יָם הַ‏‏מָּוֶת, Yām HaMā́weṯ, "The Sea of Death"; Arabic: البحر الميتAbout this sound al-Baḥr al-Mayyit ,[4]), also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east, and Palestine and Israel to the west. Its surface and shores are 427 metres (1,401 ft) below sea level,[3] Earth's lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 306 m (1,004 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is also one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, though Lake Vanda in Antarctica (35%), Lake Assal (Djibouti) (34.8%), Lagoon Garabogazköl in the Caspian Sea (up to 35%) and some hypersaline ponds and lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica (such as Don Juan Pond (44%)) have reported higher salinities. It is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean.[5] This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea is 50 kilometres (31 mi) long and 15 kilometres (9 mi) wide at its widest point.[1] It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. Biblically, it was a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets.

The Dead Sea seawater has a density of 1.240 kg/L, which makes swimming similar to floating.[6][7]

Etymology and toponymy[edit]

In Hebrew, the Dead Sea is About this sound Yām ha-Melaḥ  (ים המלח), meaning "sea of salt" (Genesis 14:3). In the Bible, the Dead Sea is called the Salt Sea, the Sea of the Arabah, and the Eastern Sea. The designation "Dead Sea" never appears in the Bible.

In prose sometimes the term Yām ha-Māvet (ים המוות, "sea of death") is used, due to the scarcity of aquatic life there.[8] In Arabic the Dead Sea is called About this sound al-Bahr al-Mayyit [4] ("the Dead Sea"), or less commonly baḥrᵘ lūṭᵃ (بحر لوط, "the Sea of Lot"). Another historic name in Arabic was the "Sea of Zoʼar", after a nearby town in biblical times. The Greeks called it Lake Asphaltites (Attic Greek ἡ Θάλαττα ἀσφαλτῖτης, hē Thálatta asphaltĩtēs, "the Asphaltite[9] sea"). The Bible also refers to it as Yām ha-Mizraḥî (ים המזרחי, "the Eastern sea") and Yām ha-‘Ărāvâ (ים הערבה, "Sea of the Arabah").

Geography[edit]

Satellite photograph showing the location of the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is an endorheic lake located in the Jordan Rift Valley, a geographic feature formed by the Dead Sea Transform (DST). This left lateral-moving transform fault lies along the tectonic plate boundary between the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. It runs between the East Anatolian Fault zone in Turkey and the northern end of the Red Sea Rift offshore of the southern tip of Sinai. It is here that the Upper Jordan River/Sea of Galilee/Lower Jordan River water system comes to an end.

The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea, although there are small perennial springs under and around the Dead Sea, forming pools and quicksand pits along the edges.[10] There are no outlet streams.

Rainfall is scarcely 100 mm (4 in) per year in the northern part of the Dead Sea and barely 50 mm (2 in) in the southern part.[11] The Dead Sea zone's aridity is due to the rainshadow effect of the Judaean Mountains. The highlands east of the Dead Sea receive more rainfall than the Dead Sea itself.

To the west of the Dead Sea, the Judaean mountains rise less steeply and are much lower than the mountains to the east. Along the southwestern side of the lake is a 210 m (700 ft) tall halite formation called "Mount Sodom".

Natural history[edit]

There are two contending hypotheses about the origin of the low elevation of the Dead Sea. The older hypothesis is that it lies in a true rift zone, an extension of the Red Sea Rift, or even of the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa. A more recent hypothesis is that the Dead Sea basin is a consequence of a "step-over" discontinuity along the Dead Sea Transform, creating an extension of the crust with consequent subsidence.

Around 3.7 million years ago,[citation needed] what is now the valley of the Jordan River, Dead Sea, and the northern Wadi Arabah was repeatedly inundated by waters from the Mediterranean Sea. The waters formed in a narrow, crooked bay, called by geologists the Sedom Lagoon, which was connected to the sea through what is now the Jezreel Valley. The floods of the valley came and went depending on long-scale climate change. The Sedom Lagoon[12] deposited beds of salt that eventually became 2.5 km (1.55 mi) thick.

Approximately two million years ago,[citation needed] the land between the Rift Valley and the Mediterranean Sea rose to such an extent that the ocean could no longer flood the area. Thus, the long lagoon became a landlocked lake. The Sedom Lagoon extended at its maximum from the Sea of Galilee in the north to somewhere around 50 km (30 mi) south of the current southern end of the Dead Sea, and the subsequent lakes obviously never surpassed this expanse. The Hula Depression was never part of any of these water bodies due to its higher elevation and the high threshold of the Korazin block separating it from the Sea of Galilee basin.

The first prehistoric lake to follow the Sedom Lagoon is named Lake Amora, followed by Lake Lisan and finally by the Dead Sea.[12] The water levels and salinity of these lakes have either risen or fallen as an effect of the tectonic dropping of the valley bottom, and due to climate variation. As the climate became more arid, Lake Lisan finally shrank and became saltier, leaving the Dead Sea as its last remainder.[12][13]

Pebbles cemented with halite on the western shore of the Dead Sea near Ein Gedi.

In prehistoric times, great amounts of sediment collected on the floor of Lake Amora. The sediment was heavier than the salt deposits and squeezed the salt deposits upwards into what are now the Lisan Peninsula and Mount Sodom (on the southwest side of the lake). Geologists explain the effect in terms of a bucket of mud into which a large flat stone is placed, forcing the mud to creep up the sides of the bucket. When the floor of the Dead Sea dropped further due to tectonic forces, the salt mounts of Lisan and Mount Sodom stayed in place as high cliffs (see salt dome).

From 70,000 to 12,000 years ago, the lake's level was 100 m (330 ft) to 250 m (820 ft) higher than its current level. This lake, Lake Lisan, fluctuated dramatically, rising to its highest level around 26,000 years ago, indicating a very wet climate in the Near East.[14] Around 10,000 years ago, the lake's level dropped dramatically, probably to even lower than today's. During the last several thousand years, the lake has fluctuated approximately 400 m (1,300 ft), with some significant drops and rises. Current theories as to the cause of this dramatic drop in levels rule out volcanic activity; therefore, it may have been a seismic event.

Climate[edit]

The Dead Sea's climate offers year-round sunny skies and dry air. It has less than 50 millimetres (2 in) mean annual rainfall and a summer average temperature between 32 and 39 °C (90 and 102 °F). Winter average temperatures range between 20 and 23 °C (68 and 73 °F). The region has weakened ultraviolet radiation, particularly the UVB (erythrogenic rays). Given the heavier atmospheric pressure, the air has a slightly higher oxygen content (3.3% in summer to 4.8% in winter) as compared to oxygen density at sea level.[15][16] Barometric pressures at the Dead Sea were measured between 796 and 799 mmHg and clinically compared with health effects at higher altitude.[17] (This barometric measure is about 5% higher than sea level standard atmospheric pressure of 760 mmHg, which is the global ocean mean or ATM.) The Dead Sea affects temperatures nearby because of the moderating effect a large body of water has on climate. During the winter, sea temperatures tend to be higher than land temperatures, and vice versa during the summer months. This is the result of the water's mass and specific heat capacity. On average, there are 192 days above 30C (86F) annually.[18]

Climate data for Dead Sea
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 26.4
(79.5)
30.4
(86.7)
33.8
(92.8)
42.5
(108.5)
45.0
(113)
46.4
(115.5)
47.0
(116.6)
44.5
(112.1)
43.6
(110.5)
40.0
(104)
35.0
(95)
28.5
(83.3)
47.0
(116.6)
Average high °C (°F) 20.5
(68.9)
21.7
(71.1)
24.8
(76.6)
29.9
(85.8)
34.1
(93.4)
37.6
(99.7)
39.7
(103.5)
39.0
(102.2)
36.5
(97.7)
32.4
(90.3)
26.9
(80.4)
21.7
(71.1)
30.4
(86.7)
Average low °C (°F) 12.7
(54.9)
13.7
(56.7)
16.7
(62.1)
20.9
(69.6)
24.7
(76.5)
27.6
(81.7)
29.6
(85.3)
29.9
(85.8)
28.3
(82.9)
24.7
(76.5)
19.3
(66.7)
14.1
(57.4)
21.9
(71.4)
Record low °C (°F) 5.4
(41.7)
6.0
(42.8)
8.0
(46.4)
11.5
(52.7)
19.0
(66.2)
23.0
(73.4)
26.0
(78.8)
26.8
(80.2)
24.2
(75.6)
17.0
(62.6)
9.8
(49.6)
6.0
(42.8)
5.4
(41.7)
Precipitation mm (inches) 7.8
(0.307)
9.0
(0.354)
7.6
(0.299)
4.3
(0.169)
0.2
(0.008)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
1.2
(0.047)
3.5
(0.138)
8.3
(0.327)
41.9
(1.65)
Avg. precipitation days 3.3 3.5 2.5 1.3 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 1.6 2.8 15.6
 % humidity 41 38 33 27 24 23 24 27 31 33 36 41 31.5
Source: Israel Meteorological Service[19]

Chemistry[edit]

Halite deposits (and teepee structure) along the western Dead Sea coast.
Beach pebbles made of halite; western Dead Sea coast.

Until the winter of 1978–79, when a major mixing event took place,[20] the Dead Sea was composed of two stratified layers of water that differed in temperature, density, age, and salinity. The topmost 35 meters (115 ft) or so of the Dead Sea had an average salinity of 342 parts per thousand (in 2002), and a temperature that swung between 19 °C (66 °F) and 37 °C (99 °F). Underneath a zone of transition, the lowest level of the Dead Sea had waters of a consistent 22 °C (72 °F) temperature and complete saturation of sodium chloride (NaCl).[citation needed] Since the water near the bottom is saturated, the salt precipitates out of solution onto the sea floor.

Beginning in the 1960s, water inflow to the Dead Sea from the Jordan River was reduced as a result of large-scale irrigation and generally low rainfall. By 1975, the upper water layer was saltier than the lower layer. Nevertheless, the upper layer remained suspended above the lower layer because its waters were warmer and thus less dense. When the upper layer cooled so its density was greater than the lower layer, the waters mixed (1978–79). For the first time in centuries, the lake was a homogeneous body of water. Since then, stratification has begun to redevelop.[20]

The mineral content of the Dead Sea is very different from that of ocean water. The exact composition of the Dead Sea water varies mainly with season, depth and temperature. In the early 1980s, the concentration of ionic species (in g/kg) of Dead Sea surface water was Cl (181.4), Br (4.2), SO42− (0.4), HCO3 (0.2), Ca2+ (14.1), Na+ (32.5), K+ (6.2) and Mg2+ (35.2). The total salinity was 276 g/kg.[21] These results show that the composition of the salt, as anhydrous chlorides on a weight percentage basis, was calcium chloride (CaCl2) 14.4%, potassium chloride (KCl) 4.4%, magnesium chloride (MgCl2) 50.8% and sodium chloride (common salt, NaCl) 30.4%. In comparison, the salt in the water of most oceans and seas is approximately 97% sodium chloride. The concentration of sulfate ions (SO42−) is very low, and the concentration of bromide ions (Br) is the highest of all waters on Earth.

The salt concentration of the Dead Sea fluctuates around 31.5%. This is unusually high and results in a nominal density of 1.24 kg/l. Anyone can easily float in the Dead Sea because of natural buoyancy. In this respect the Dead Sea is similar to the Great Salt Lake in Utah in the United States.

An unusual feature of the Dead Sea is its discharge of asphalt. From deep seeps, the Dead Sea constantly spits up small pebbles and blocks of the black substance.[22] Asphalt coated figurines and bitumen coated Neolithic skulls from archaeological sites have been found. Egyptian mummification processes used asphalt imported from the Dead Sea region.[23][24]

Health effects and therapies[edit]

The Dead Sea area has become a major center for health research and treatment for several reasons. The mineral content of the water, the very low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each have specific health effects. For example, persons experiencing reduced respiratory function from diseases such as cystic fibrosis seem to benefit from the increased atmospheric pressure.[25]

The region's climate and low elevation have made it a popular center for several types of therapies:

Treatment for psoriasis[edit]

Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea is an effective therapy for patients with psoriasis,[26] who benefit from sunbathing for long periods in the area due to its position below sea level and subsequent result that many of the sun's harmful UV rays are reduced.[27]

Treatment for rhinosinusitis[edit]

Rhinosinusitis patients receiving Dead Sea saline nasal irrigation exhibited significantly better symptom relief compared to standard hypertonic saline spray.[28]

Treatment for osteoarthritis[edit]

Dead Sea mud pack therapy has been suggested to temporarily relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knees. According to researchers of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, treatment with mineral-rich mud compresses can be used to augment conventional medical therapy.[29]

Panorama of the Dead Sea from the Mövenpick Resort, Jordan.

Fauna and flora[edit]

Dead Sea in the morning, seen from Masada

The sea is called "dead" because its high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants, from living in it, though minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present.

In times of flood, the salt content of the Dead Sea can drop from its usual 35% to 30% or lower. The Dead Sea temporarily comes to life in the wake of rainy winters. In 1980, after one such rainy winter, the normally dark blue Dead Sea turned red. Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the Dead Sea to be teeming with a type of alga called Dunaliella. Dunaliella in turn nourished carotenoid-containing (red-pigmented) halobacteria, whose presence caused the color change. Since 1980, the Dead Sea basin has been dry and the algae and the bacteria have not returned in measurable numbers. Recently a group of scientists from Be'er Sheva, Israel and Germany discovered fissures in the floor of the Dead Sea by scuba diving and observing the surface. These fissures allow fresh water to enter the Dead Sea. They sampled biofilms surrounding the fissures and discovered a very significant number of species of Bacteria and Archea.[30] This new research may change the current dogma that the Dead Sea cannot support life.

Many animal species live in the mountains surrounding the Dead Sea. Hikers can see camels, ibex, hares, hyraxes, jackals, foxes, and even leopards. Hundreds of bird species inhabit the zone as well. Both Jordan and Israel have established nature reserves around the Dead Sea.

The delta of the Jordan River was formerly a jungle of papyrus and palm trees. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus described Jericho as "the most fertile spot in Judea". In Roman and Byzantine times, sugarcane, henna, and sycamore fig all made the lower Jordan valley wealthy. One of the most valuable products produced by Jericho was the sap of the balsam tree, which could be made into perfume. By the 19th century, Jericho's fertility had disappeared.

Human settlement[edit]

Settlements and ways at the south end of the Dead Sea (1823)

There are several small communities near the Dead Sea. These include Ein Gedi, Neve Zohar and the Israeli settlements in the Megilot Regional Council: Kalya, Mitzpe Shalem and Avnat. There is a nature preserve at Ein Gedi, and several Dead Sea hotels are located on the southwest end at Ein Bokek near Neve Zohar. Highway 90 runs north-south on the Israeli side for a total distance of 565 km (351 mi) from Metula on the Lebanese border in the north to its southern terminus at the Egyptian border near the Red Sea port of Eilat.

Potash City is a small community on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, and others including Suweima. Highway 65 runs north-south on the Jordanian side from Lebanon down past the Dead Sea to the port of Aqaba.

Human history[edit]

Mount Sodom, Israel, showing the so-called "Lot's Wife" pillar (made of halite like the rest of the mountain)

Biblical period[edit]

Dwelling in caves near the Dead Sea is recorded in the Hebrew Bible as having taken place before the Israelites came to Canaan, and extensively at the time of King David.

Just north of the Dead Sea is Jericho. Somewhere, perhaps on the southeastern shore, would be the cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis which were said to have been destroyed in the time of Abraham: Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 18) and the three other "Cities of the Plain", Admah, Zeboim and Zoar (Deuteronomy 29:23). Zoar escaped destruction when Abraham's nephew Lot escaped to Zoar from Sodom (Genesis 19:21-22). Before the destruction, the Dead Sea was a valley full of natural tar pits, which was called the vale of Siddim. King David was said to have hidden from Saul at Ein Gedi nearby.

In Ezekiel 47:8-9 there is a specific prophecy that the sea will ".. be healed and made fresh", becoming a normal lake capable of supporting marine life. A similar prophecy is stated in Zechariah 14:8, which says that "Living waters will go out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea (likely the Dead Sea) and half to the western sea (the Mediterranean)..."

Greek and Roman period[edit]

Aristotle wrote about the remarkable waters. The Nabateans and others discovered the value of the globs of natural asphalt that constantly floated to the surface where they could be harvested with nets. The Egyptians were steady customers, as they used asphalt in the embalming process that created mummies. The Ancient Romans knew the Dead Sea as "Palus Asphaltites"[31] (Asphalt Lake).

King Herod the Great built or rebuilt several fortresses and palaces on the western bank of the Dead Sea. The most famous was Masada, where in 70 CE a small group of Jewish zealots fled after the fall of the destruction of the Second Temple. The zealots survived until 73 CE, when a siege by the X Legion ended in the deaths by suicide of its 960 inhabitants. Another historically important fortress along the western bank was Machaerus where, according to Josephus, John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod Antipas and died.[32]

Also in Roman times, some Essenes settled on the Dead Sea's western shore; Pliny the Elder identifies their location with the words, "on the west side of the Dead Sea, away from the coast ... [above] the town of Engeda" (Natural History, Bk 5.73); and it is therefore a hugely popular but contested hypothesis today, that same Essenes are identical with the settlers at Qumran and that "the Dead Sea Scrolls" discovered during the 20th century in the nearby caves had been their own library.

Josephus identified the Dead Sea in geographic proximity to the ancient Biblical city of Sodom. However, he referred to the lake by its Greek name, Asphaltites.[33]

Various sects of Jews settled in caves overlooking the Dead Sea. The best known of these are the Essenes of Qumran, who left an extensive library known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.[34] The town of Ein Gedi, mentioned many times in the Mishna, produced persimmon for the temple's fragrance and for export, using a secret recipe. "Sodomite salt" was an essential mineral for the temple's holy incense, but was said to be dangerous for home use and could cause blindness.[35] The Roman camps surrounding Masada were built by Jewish slaves receiving water from the towns around the lake. These towns had drinking water from the Ein Feshcha springs and other sweetwater springs in the vicinity.[36]

Byzantine period[edit]

Intimately connected with the Judean wilderness to its northwest and west, the Dead Sea was a place of escape and refuge. The remoteness of the region attracted Greek Orthodox monks since the Byzantine era. Their monasteries, such as Saint George in Wadi Kelt and Mar Saba in the Judaean Desert, are places of pilgrimage.

Modern times[edit]

World's lowest (dry) point, Jordan, 1971

Explorers and scientists arrived in the area to analyze the minerals and research the unique climate. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, hundreds of religious documents dated between 150 BCE and 70 CE were found in caves near the ancient settlement of Qumran, about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea (presently in the West Bank). They became known and famous as the Dead Sea Scrolls. A golf course named for Sodom and Gomorrah was built by the British at Kalia on the northern shore.

The world's lowest roads, Highway 90, run along the Israeli and West Bank shores of the Dead Sea, along with Highway 65 on the Jordanian side, at 393 m (1,289 ft) below sea level.

The first major hotels were built in nearby Arad, and since the 1960s at the Neve Zohar resort complex. On the Jordanian side, six international franchises have opened seaside resort hotels near the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center, along with resort apartments, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.[37]

Industry and tourism[edit]

View of salt evaporation pans on the Dead Sea, taken in 1989 from the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-28). The southern half is separated from the northern half at what used to be the Lisan Peninsula because of the fall in level of the Dead Sea.
View of the mineral evaporation ponds almost 12 years later (STS-102). A northern and small southeastern extension were added and the large polygonal ponds subdivided.

British mandate period[edit]

In the early part of the 20th century, the Dead Sea began to attract interest from chemists who deduced the sea was a natural deposit of potash (potassium chloride) and bromine. The Palestine Potash Company was chartered in 1929, after its founder, Siberian Jewish engineer and pioneer of Lake Baikal exploitation, Moses Novomeysky, worked for the charter for over ten years. The first plant was on the north shore of the Dead Sea at Kalya and produced potash by solar evaporation of the brine. Employing Arabs and Jews, it was an island of peace in turbulent times.[38] The company quickly grew into the largest industrial site in the Middle East,[citation needed] and in 1934 built a second plant on the southwest shore, in the Mount Sodom area, south of the 'Lashon' region of the Dead Sea. Palestine Potash Company supplied half of Britain's potash during World War II, but ultimately became a casualty of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

Israel[edit]

Following the 1948 war, the Kalya plant in the West Bank was shut down, having been dismantled by the Palmach prior to their retreat. Operations restarted at the southern Sodom plant in 1952, and have continued to the present.[39] The remnants of the Palestine Potash Company were nationalised and Dead Sea Works Ltd. was established in 1952 in its stead as a state-owned company to extract potash and other minerals from the Dead Sea. In 1995, the company was privatized and it is currently owned by Israel Chemicals.

From the Dead Sea brine, Israel produces (2001) 1.77 million tons potash, 206,000 tons elemental bromine, 44,900 tons caustic soda, 25,000 tons magnesium metal, and sodium chloride.

Israeli companies generate around USD 3 billion annually from the sale of Dead Sea minerals (primarily potash and bromine) and from other products, which are derived from Dead Sea Minerals.[40]

Israel has 15 hotels along the Dead Sea shore, generating total revenues of $291 million in 2012. Most Israeli hotels and resorts on the Dead Sea are on a six kilometer stretch of the southern shore.[40]

West Bank[edit]

The Palestinian Dead Sea Coast is about 40 kilometers long. The Palestinian economy is unable to benefit from Dead Sea chemicals due to restricted access, permit issues and the uncertainties of the investment climate.[40] The World Bank estimates that a Palestinian Dead Sea chemicals industry could generate $918m incremental value added per year, "almost equivalent to the contribution of the entire manufacturing sector of Palestinian territories today".[40]

The World Bank estimates that a Palestinian Dead Sea tourism industry could generate $290 million of revenues per year and 2,900 jobs.[40] However, Palestinians have been unable to obtain construction permits for tourism-related investments on the Dead Sea.[40] According to the World Bank, Officials in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities state that the only way to apply for such permits is through the Joint Committees established under the Oslo Agreement, but the relevant committee has not met with any degree of regularity since 2000.[40]

Jordan[edit]

On the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, Arab Potash (APC), formed in 1956, produces 2.0 million tons of potash annually, as well as sodium chloride and bromine. The plant is located at Safi, South Aghwar Department, in the Karak Governorate.

Jordanian Dead Sea mineral industries generate about $1.2 billion in sales (equivalent to 4 percent of Jordan’s GDP). The Jordanian shore has 5 hotels that are classified as either 5-star or 4-star, generating total revenues of $128 million in 2012.[40]

Extraction[edit]

Both companies use extensive salt evaporation pans that have essentially diked the entire southern end of the Dead Sea for the purpose of producing carnallite, potassium magnesium chloride, which is then processed further to produce potassium chloride. The ponds are separated by a central dike that runs roughly north-south along the international border. The power plant on the Israeli side allows production of magnesium metal (by a subsidiary, Dead Sea Magnesium Ltd.).

Due to the popularity of the sea's therapeutic and healing properties, several companies have also shown interest in the manufacturing and supplying of Dead Sea salts as raw materials for body and skin care products.

Recession and environmental concerns[edit]

The dwindling water level of the Dead Sea

Since 1930, when its surface was 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) and its level was 390 m (1,280 ft) below sea level, the Dead Sea has been monitored continuously.[41] In recent decades, the Dead Sea has been rapidly shrinking because of diversion of incoming water from the Jordan River to the north. The southern end is fed by a canal maintained by the Dead Sea Works, a company that converts the sea's raw materials. From a water surface of 395 m (1,296 ft) below sea level in 1970[42] it fell 22 m (72 ft) to 418 m (1,371 ft) below sea level in 2006, reaching a drop rate of 1 m (3 ft) per year. As the water level decreases, the characteristics of the Sea and surrounding region may substantially change.

The Dead Sea level drop has been followed by a groundwater level drop, causing brines that used to occupy underground layers near the shoreline to be flushed out by freshwater. This is believed to be the cause of the recent appearance of large sinkholes along the western shore—incoming freshwater dissolves salt layers, rapidly creating subsurface cavities that subsequently collapse to form these sinkholes.[43]

Gully in unconsolidated Dead Sea sediments exposed by recession of water levels. It was excavated by floods from the Judean Mountains in less than a year.

In May 2009 at the World Economic Forum, Jordan announced its plans to construct the "Jordan National Red Sea Development Project" (JRSP). This is a plan to convey seawater from the Red Sea near Aqaba to the Dead Sea. Water would be desalinated along the route to provide fresh water to Jordan, with the brine discharge sent to the Dead Sea for replenishment. The early planning called for developer and financier selection to be completed by year's end, with detailed design to begin in early 2010, and water delivery by 2017. Israel expressed its support and will likely benefit from some of the water delivery to its Negev region. Some hydro-power will be collected near the Dead Sea from the dramatic change in elevation on the downhill side of the project.[citation needed]

At a regional conference in July 2009, officials expressed increased concerns about the declining water levels. Some suggested various industrial activities around the Dead Sea might need to be reduced. Others advised a range of possible environmental measures to restore conditions. This might include increasing the volume of flow from the Jordan River to replenish the Dead Sea. Currently, only sewage and effluent from fish ponds run in the river's channel. Experts also asserted a need for strict conservation efforts. They also said agriculture should not be expanded, sustainable support capabilities should be incorporated into the area and pollution sources should be reduced.[44]

Year Water level (m) Surface (km2)
1930 -390 1050
1980 -400 680
1992 -407 675
1997 -411 670
2004 -417 662
2010 -423 655
2014 -427 600

Sources: Jewish Virtual Library,[45] [46] Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research,[47] Jordan Valley Authority.[48]

In October 2009, the Jordanians announced accelerated plans to extract around 300 million cubic meters of water per year from the Red Sea, desalinate it for use as fresh water and send the waste water to the Dead Sea by tunnel, despite concerns about inadequate time to assess the potential environmental impact. According to Jordan's minister for water, General Maysoun Zu'bi, this project could be considered as the first phase of the Red Sea–Dead Sea Project.[49]

In December 2013, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement for laying a water pipeline to link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea. The pipeline will be 110 miles long and is estimated to take up to five years to complete.[50]

Views in 1972, 1989, and 2011 compared[51]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Virtual Israel Experience: The Dead Sea". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Dead Sea Data Summary 2012.Water Authority of Israel. The World Bank - 'The Red Sea - Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program' - 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Monitoring of the Dead Sea". Israel Marine Data Center (ISRAMAR). 
  4. ^ a b The first article al- is unnecessary and usually not used.
  5. ^ Goetz, P.W. (ed.) (1986). The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th ed.) 3. Chicago. p. 937. 
  6. ^ R W McColl, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of world geography. Facts on File. p. 237. ISBN 9780816072293. 
  7. ^ "Dead Sea - Composition of Dead Sea Water". 
  8. ^ David Bridger; Samuel Wolk (September 1976). The New Jewish Encyclopedia. Behrman House, Inc. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-87441-120-1. Retrieved July 25, 2011. "It was named the “Dead Sea” because of the fact that no living thing can exist there, since the water is extremely salty and bitter." 
  9. ^ See bitumen and asphalt for more about asphaltite.
  10. ^ "Springs and quicksand at the Dead Sea". Retrieved Augudt 27, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Dead Sea". Exact Me.org. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c Mordechai Stein. "The limnological history of late Pleistocene – Holocene water bodies in the Dead Sea basin". 
  13. ^ Groundwater Base Level Changes and Adjoining Hydrological Systems - Uri Kafri, Yoseph Yechieli - Google Books
  14. ^ Geochemical Society; Meteoritical Society (1971). Geochimica et cosmochimica acta. Pergamon Press. Retrieved April 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Natural Resources". Dead Sea Research Center. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Lowest Elevation: Dead Sea". Extreme Science. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 
  17. ^ Kramer, MR; Springer C; Berkman N; Glazer M; Bublil M; Bar-Yishay E; Godfrey S (March 1998). "Rehabilitation of hypoxemic patients with COPD at low altitude at the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth". Chest 113 (3): 571–575. doi:10.1378/chest.113.3.571. PMID 9515826. "PMID 9515826" 
  18. ^ "Climatological Averages for Dead Sea". IMS. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Averages and Records for several places in Israel". Israel Meteorological Service. June 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "Dead Sea Canal". American.edu. 1996-12-09. Retrieved May 5, 2009. 
  21. ^ I. Steinhorn, In Situ Salt Precipitation at the Dead Sea, Limnol. Oceanogr. 28(3),1983, 580-583
  22. ^ Bein, A. and O. Amit (2007). "The evolution of the Dead Sea floating asphalt blocks: simulations by pyrolisis". Journal of Petroleum Geology (Journal of Petroleum Geology) 2 (4): 439–447. doi:10.1111/j.1747-5457.1980.tb00971.x. 
  23. ^ Niemi, Tina M., Zvi Ben-Avraham and Joel Gat, eds., The Dead Sea: the lake and its setting, 1997, Oxford University Press, p. 251 ISBN 978-0-19-508703-1
  24. ^ J. Rullkötter and A. Nissenbaum (December 1988). "Dead sea asphalt in Egyptian mummies: Molecular evidence". Naturwissenschaften 75 (12): 618. Bibcode:1988NW.....75..618R. doi:10.1007/BF00366476. 
  25. ^ "Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease". Dead Sea Research Center. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 
  26. ^ Cohen, Arnon D.; Van‐Dijk, Dina; Naggan, Lechaim; Vardy, Daniel A. (2005). "Effectiveness of climatotherapy at the Dead Sea for psoriasis vulgaris: A community-oriented study introducing the Beer Sheva Psoriasis Severity Score". Dermatological Treatment 16 (5–6): 308–313. doi:10.1080/09546630500375841. 
  27. ^ S. Halevy et al. Dead sea bath salt for the treatment of psoriasis vulgaris: a double-blind controlled study 9 (3). Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. pp. 237–242. 
  28. ^ Michael Friedman, Ramakrishnan Vidyasagar, Ninos Joseph (June 2006). A Randomized, Prospective, Double-Blind Study on the Efficacy of Dead Sea Salt Nasal Irrigations 116 (6). The Laryngoscope. pp. 878–882. doi:10.1097/01.mlg.0000216798.10007.76. 
  29. ^ Flusser, Daniel; Abu-Shakra, Mahmoud; Friger, Michael; Codish, Shlomi; Sukenik, Shaul (August 2002). Therapy With Mud Compresses for Knee Osteoarthritis: Comparison of Natural Mud Preparations With Mineral-Depleted Mud 8 (4). Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. pp. 197–203. 
  30. ^ "Microbial and Chemical Characterization of Underwater Fresh Water Springs in the Dead Sea"
  31. ^ "Asphaltites examples from ancient sources". Wordnik.com. Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  32. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18.119.
  33. ^ Josephus. "9". Antiquities of the Jews 1. 
  34. ^ Found today in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum of Jerusalem
  35. ^ "Sodomite salt could cause blindness". 
  36. ^ A synagogue mosaic floor (circa 100 BCE) at Ein Gedi repeats the Mishna, portraying a curse on whoever reveals the town's secret persimmon recipe. Papyrus parchments found in caves near the Dead Sea document the vast amount of cultivated land in the area, especially persimmon trees, but also olive and date trees
  37. ^ Staff writer (May 22, 2007). "Jordan's Dead Sea Comes to Life". Arabian Business. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  38. ^ "Wealth From The Dead Sea". Popular Mechanics (Chicago: Hearst Magazines) 54 (5): pp. 794–798. November 1930. 
  39. ^ The Dead Sea: The Lake and Its Setting, edited by Tina M. Niemi, Zvi Ben-Avraham, Joel Gat
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h World Bank, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Department, Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy, October 2, 2013
  41. ^ "Overview of Middle East Water Resources_Dead Sea". Jewish Virtual Library. December 1998. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  42. ^ C. Klein, A. Flohn. Contribution to the Knowledge in the Fluctuations of the Dead Sea Level 38. Theoretical and Applied Climatology. pp. 151–156, 1987. 
  43. ^ M. Abelson; Y. Yechieli; O. Crouvi; G. Baer; D. Wachs; A. Bein; V. Shtivelman (2006). "Evolution of the Dead Sea Sinkholes in". special paper 401 (Geological Society of America). pp. 241–253. 
  44. ^ Ehud Zion Waldoks (July 8, 2009). [tp://www.jpost.com/Features/Article.aspx?id=148034 "Back from the Dead?"]. The Jerusalem Post. 
  45. ^ "Water level of the Dead Sea". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  46. ^ "Water level and surface area of the Dead Sea". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  47. ^ "Long-Term Changes in the Dead Sea (1992-2010)". Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  48. ^ Eng. Sa’ad Abu Hammour, JVA. "River Basin Management". Jordan Valley Authority. Retrieved 31 May 2014. 
  49. ^ "Jordan to refill shrinking Dead Sea". Daily Telegraph. 10 October 2009. 
  50. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (2013-12-09). "Dead Sea neighbours agree to pipeline to pump water from Red Sea". The Guardian. 
  51. ^ The Dead Sea (April 6, 2012)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]