Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Omen for the future: the Dead Sea was nearly dry generations ago, drilling project shows

18.01.2012
The rapidly dropping water level of the Dead Sea, a cause of much concern today, occurred as well in the distant past, resulting in the severe drying up of the lake, an international drilling project there has shown.

The project, in which researchers from the Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem were involved, opens a window into the climatic and seismic history of the Dead Sea over the past hundreds of thousands of years.

The project discovered that about 125,000 years ago, the lake had dried up almost completely as a result of climate change. This finding arouses worry about the present status of the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth -- in which human intervention is causing acceleration of the drying-up process.

A special rig was brought to Israel for the purposes of the drilling project, including equipment to bring up sediment samples from beneath the lake floor. The drilling was done from November 2010 until March 2011 in two areas: in the center of the lake at a depth of 300 meters and near the Ein Gedi shore.

The drilling was done under the auspices of the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) under the direction of Prof. Mordechai Stein of the Geological Survey of Israel and the Hebrew University and Prof. Zvi Ben-Avraham of Tel Aviv University, with support from the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Other partners in the project were researchers from the Hebrew University’s Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences: Prof. Amotz Agnon, Prof. Yehouda Enzel, Prof. Boaz Lazar and Prof. Yigal Erel.

The Dead Sea is a salt lake located in a deep tectonic depression – the Dead Sea basin -- in which the loss of water is only through evaporation. The lake behaves like a large water gauge of its watershed. The Jordan River and the Arava stream transport sediments and waters from north and south that reflect the environmental conditions in the Mediterranean and desert climate zones.

Over the past hundreds of thousand of years, the lake accumulated information on the hydrological–climate conditions in these regions. Moreover, the reconstruction of climates of the past are relevant to human history since the Dead Sea basin is located along a major route for pre-historic man on his way out of Africa.

The sediments that were drilled and recovered from the floor of the Dead Sea contain the information that enables us to reconstruct the climatic conditions that existed here and even in more distant areas such as the Arabian and Sahara deserts, said Stein.

A preliminary analysis of the drilled cores discovered, at a depth of 250 meters below the lake floor (and 550 meters below the lake surface), thick sequences of salt covered by rock pebbles that indicate a period when the lake retreated and nearly dried up. These sequences are overlain by marly (muddy) sediments that indicate, conversely, an enhanced input of freshwater to the lake and wetter climate conditions in the watershed.

Today, the Dead Sea is at a level of 426 meters below sea level and sinking rapidly. The evaporation of the lake in the past should be a warning sign for us now in terms of a possible drying up in the future, say the scientists. Whereas in the past, forces of natural climate change brought about a refilling on the sea through drainage of waters coming into the basin, this cannot happen as long as the waters of the Jordan River are diverted by its neighboring states.

For further information:
Jerry Barach, Dept. of Media Relations, the Hebrew University,
Tel: 02-588-2904.
Orit Sulitzeanu, Hebrew University spokesperson, Tel: 054-8820016.

Jerry Barach | Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Six-decade-old space mystery solved with shoebox-sized satellite called a CubeSat
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht NSF-funded researchers find that ice sheet is dynamic and has repeatedly grown and shrunk
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>