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The Dead Sea and Sinkholes

March 26, 2012

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Sinkholes surface in the areas that once were the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea, one of the most impressive natural wonders in Israel, has long been an enigma to many researchers. The high salinity and dense water make this lake unlike any other body of water in the world. However, in recent years it has shrunk significantly.

Low rainfall and mining companies in Jordan and Israel that extract minerals from the Dead Sea are among the reasons that have resulted in the water level receding by about two billion gallons a year and the shoreline by four feet each year.

Eli Raz, a geologist at BGU’s Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, who has devoted decades to studying the lake is worried about this phenomenon. He and other researchers are most concerned with the sinkholes that have formed in areas that used to be part of the Dead Sea.

As the groundwater surrounding the dried up shores of the Dead Sea dries up, the surface caves in, causing dangerous cavernous sinkholes. This has caused much of the once thriving tourist beaches to become highly unstable, and closed to visitors.

“Raz said there are many theories behind the sinkholes,” writes Adam Dickter, “but it is clear that the salt cap under the ground surface is being dissolved by fresh water. The only question is why?”

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