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 Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>