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The Disappearing Dead Sea

Updated on February 11, 2015
dead sea
dead sea

Where is the Dead Sea, Anyway?

The Dead Sea, a salt lake bordering Israel, Palestine and Jordan, is a body of water with many notable geographic features and benefits to humanity.

Despite the value of the Dead Sea, its waters are receding and the sea is “dying.” The sea is landlocked, which means that there's only a single point of entry.

As the water there slowly evaporates, more and more silt builds up to close off this path of ingress.

This evaporation, in fact, is what gives the water the unique abilities, retaining the combination of healing salts that isn't repeated anywhere else on Earth.

This is because water flowing into the Dead Sea from the Jordan River in the North is being diverted for irrigation. Additionally, the water is being drained from the South as a result of mineral extraction. Efforts are being made to save the Dead Sea, but it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

dead sea pipeline
dead sea pipeline

Do you think it's important to artificially save the Dead Sea?

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salt sea crystals
salt sea crystals

Notable Geographic Features and Benefits of the Dead Sea

The ancient Romans gave the Dead Sea its name. The Dead Sea is so salty that no fish or plants can live there, hence the name.

As for another interesting fact, the Dead Sea is 1300 feet below Sea Level, which makes it the lowest surface on the planet.

One unique feature of the Dead Sea is the “salt diamonds” formed in its waters. These mineral formations are made the same way diamonds are – by pressure to minerals under the soil – except the pressure is on salt rather than coal.

Also, “salt pearls” are formed in the Dead Sea by the smoothing actions of waves over time. Furthermore, impressive layers of salt formations can be seen on the banks of the Dead Sea.

The salty mud of the Dead Sea is believed to have many beneficial health effects when slathered on the skin of humans, including easing arthritis pain. Tourists come to the Dead Sea for mud spas. A number of beauty products are created from Dead Sea mud.

Dead Sea Salt crystal outgrowth
Dead Sea Salt crystal outgrowth
dead sea tourism
dead sea tourism
looks like fun...but don't stay for more than 20 minutes...
looks like fun...but don't stay for more than 20 minutes...
this dirt is actually cleansing - powerfully!
this dirt is actually cleansing - powerfully!

The actual water of the Dead Sea is another tourist attraction. The water has eight times the salt of ocean water and is the densest water on the planet.

This makes it easier at the Dead Sea than anywhere else for a person to stay afloat in the water, creating a unique swimming and water recreation experience.

Yet another attraction is that the low altitude air of the Dead Sea is rich in oxygen and many people find it to have a calming and relaxing effect.

Imagine floating in the thickly-saturated waters, with the oxygen-laden air invigorating your lungs as you read a newspaper?

Many people flock each year to Jordan/Israel just for the chance to do this in the Salt Sea.

Tourism is still a strong industry on the banks of the Dead Sea, but it is threatened as the waters disappear.

In fact, this is the primary reason that so many people have called for preservation efforts for years now, so that future generations might have a chance to experience the Salt Sea of antiquity.

After all, Queen Cleopatra herself bathed and was soothed by the healing waters!

The Serene Dead Sea

serenity is thy name...
serenity is thy name...

The Dead Sea is Dying

The Dead Sea is very visibly dying, and the waters are receding from the shoreline at a rate of one yard a year.

This is a modern situation, and has been created by the waters from the River Jordan (which replenish the Dead Sea) being diverted to Jordan, Syria and Israel for irrigation.

To the South of the Dead Sea, the unique minerals of the Dead Sea are being extracted by Israel and Jordan and this is drying the lake even more.

As a result of all this drainage, many dangerous sinkholes can be found on the coasts of the Dead Sea.

Moreover, as a consequence of the Dead Sea drying, the fish and plants that exist in the freshwater pools on the banks of the sea are threatened as these waters dry up as well. Some fish are being moved to nearby areas where there is more water in an effort to save them.

would you like to do this someday??
would you like to do this someday??

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Efforts to Save the Dead Sea

Efforts are being made by the Dead Sea Search and Rescue Team, Friends of the Earth Middle East and by other organizations to save the Dead Sea.

However, the problem is that the countries in the politically troubled region have not been able to put aside their grievances and agree on a plan to stop draining the Jordan River and to better regulate the mineral extraction.

Experts do not believe it is possible to bring the water levels of the Dead Sea back to what they once were, but they are hopeful that the situation can at least be stabilized.

This hasn't stopped plans for the 110 mile long pipeline being built, and the optimistic hopes that not only can the Salt Sea be restored to the glory it enjoyed at the turn of the 20th Century, it can even be increased to levels not scene since the time of Queen Cleopatra.


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    • ramonabeckbritman profile image

      Ramona 2 years ago from Arkansas

      Very informative! I love Dead Sea Salt.