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

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>