The DEAD SEA (Hebrew : יָם הַמֶּלַח Yam ha-Melah lit.
SALT SEA, Arabic : البحر الميت Al-Bahr al-Mayyit ),
is a salt lake bordered by
Jordan to the east and
Israel and Palestine
to the west. Its surface and shores are 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below
sea level , Earth's lowest elevation on land. The Dead
Sea is 304 m
(997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With a
salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2%, (in 2011), it is 9.6 times as salty as
the ocean , and one of the world\'s saltiest bodies of water . This
salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals
cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead
Sea is 50 kilometres (31 mi)
long and 15 kilometres (9 mi) wide at its widest point. It lies in
Jordan Rift Valley and its main tributary is the
Jordan River .
Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean
basin for thousands of years. It was one of the world's first health
Herod the Great
Herod the Great ), and it has been the supplier of a wide
variety of products, from asphalt for Egyptian mummification to potash
for fertilizers . People also use the salt and the minerals from the
Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets .
Sea water has a density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes
swimming similar to floating .
Sea is receding at an alarming rate. Multiple canals and
pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun
causing many problems. The Red Sea–Dead
project, carried out by
Jordan , will provide water to neighboring
countries, while the brine will be carried to the Dead
Sea to help
stabilize its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to
begin in 2018 and be completed in 2021.
* 1 Etymology and toponymy
* 2 Geography
* 3 Natural history
* 4 Climate
* 5 Chemistry
* 6 Putative therapies
* 7 Fauna and flora
* 8 Human settlement
* 9 Human history
* 9.1 Biblical period
* 9.2 Greek and Roman period
* 9.3 Byzantine period
* 9.4 Modern times
* 10 Tourism and leisure
* 10.1 British Mandate period
* 11 Chemical industry
* 11.1 British Mandate period
* 11.5 Extraction
* 12 Recession and environmental concerns
* 13 See also
* 14 References
* 15 Further reading
* 16 External links
ETYMOLOGY AND TOPONYMY
In Hebrew, the Dead
Sea is Yām ha-Melaḥ (help ·info ) (ים
המלח), meaning "sea of salt " (Genesis 14:3). The Bible uses
this term alongside two others: the
Sea of the
ha-‘Ărāvâ ים הערבה), and the Eastern
ha-Mizraḥî ים המזרחי). The designation "Dead Sea" never
appears in the Bible.
In prose sometimes the term Yām ha-Māvet (ים המוות, "sea
of death") is used, due to the scarcity of aquatic life there. In
Arabic the Dead
Sea is called al-Bahr al-Mayyit (help ·info )
("the Dead Sea"), or less commonly baḥrᵘ lūṭᵃ (بحر لوط,
Sea of Lot "). Another historic name in Arabic was the "
Zoʼar ", after a nearby town in biblical times. The Greeks called it
Lake Asphaltites (
Attic Greek ἡ Θάλαττα
ἀσφαλτῖτης, hē Thálatta asphaltĩtēs, "the Asphaltite
Satellite photograph showing the location of the Dead
Sea is an endorheic lake located in the
Jordan Rift Valley ,
a geographic feature formed by the
Dead Sea Transform (DST). This left
lateral-moving transform fault lies along the tectonic plate boundary
African Plate and the
Arabian Plate . It runs between the
East Anatolian Fault
East Anatolian Fault zone in
Turkey and the northern end of the Red
Sea Rift offshore of the southern tip of Sinai . It is here that the
Sea of Galilee/Lower
Jordan River water system
comes to an end.
Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead
Sea, although there are small perennial springs under and around the
Dead Sea, forming pools and quicksand pits along the edges. There are
no outlet streams.
The Mujib River, biblical Arnon, is one the larger water sources of
Sea other than the Jordan. The
Wadi Mujib valley, 420 m
below the sea level in the southern of
Jordan valley, is a biosphere
reserve , with an area of 212 km2 (82 sq mi ). Other more substantial
Wadi Darajeh (Arabic)/Nahal Dragot (Hebrew), and Nahal
Wadi Hasa (biblical Zered) is another wadi flowing into the
Rainfall is scarcely 100 mm (4 in) per year in the northern part of
Sea and barely 50 mm (2 in) in the southern part. The Dead
Sea zone's aridity is due to the rainshadow effect of the Judaean
Mountains . The highlands east of the Dead
Sea receive more rainfall
than the Dead
To the west of the Dead Sea, the Judaean mountains rise less steeply
and are much lower than the mountains to the east. Along the
southwestern side of the lake is a 210 m (700 ft) tall halite
formation called "
Mount Sodom ".
There are two contending hypotheses about the origin of the low
elevation of the Dead Sea. The older hypothesis is that the Dead Sea
lies in a true rift zone, an extension of the
Red Sea Rift , or even
Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley of eastern
Africa . A more recent hypothesis
is that the Dead
Sea basin is a consequence of a "step-over"
discontinuity along the Dead
Sea Transform, creating an extension of
the crust with consequent subsidence.
Around 3.7 million years ago, what is now the valley of the Jordan
River, Dead Sea, and the northern
Arabah was repeatedly inundated
by waters from the
Mediterranean Sea . The waters formed in a narrow,
crooked bay that is called by geologists the Sedom Lagoon , which was
connected to the sea through what is now the
Jezreel Valley . The
floods of the valley came and went depending on long-scale climate
change . The Sedom Lagoon deposited beds of salt that eventually
became 2.5 km (1.55 mi) thick.
Approximately two million years ago, the land between the Rift Valley
Mediterranean Sea rose to such an extent that the ocean could
no longer flood the area. Thus, the long lagoon became a landlocked
lake. The Sedom Lagoon extended at its maximum from the
Sea of Galilee
in the north to somewhere around 50 km (30 mi) south of the current
southern end of the Dead Sea, and the subsequent lakes obviously never
surpassed this expanse. The Hula Depression was never part of any of
these water bodies due to its higher elevation and the high threshold
of the Korazim block separating it from the
Sea of Galilee basin.
The first prehistoric lake to follow the Sedom Lagoon is named Lake
Amora , followed by
Lake Lisan and finally by the Dead Sea. The water
levels and salinity of these lakes have either risen or fallen as an
effect of the tectonic dropping of the valley bottom, and due to
climate variation. As the climate became more arid,
Lake Lisan finally
shrank and became saltier, leaving the Dead
Sea as its last remainder.
Pebbles cemented with halite on the western shore of the Dead
Sea near Ein Gedi.
In prehistoric times , great amounts of sediment collected on the
floor of Lake Amora. The sediment was heavier than the salt deposits
and squeezed the salt deposits upwards into what are now the Lisan
Mount Sodom (on the southwest side of the lake).
Geologists explain the effect in terms of a bucket of mud into which a
large flat stone is placed, forcing the mud to creep up the sides of
the bucket. When the floor of the Dead
Sea dropped further due to
tectonic forces, the salt mounts of Lisan and
Mount Sodom stayed in
place as high cliffs (see salt dome ).
From 70,000 to 12,000 years ago, the lake's level was 100 m (330 ft)
to 250 m (820 ft) higher than its current level. This lake, Lake
Lisan, fluctuated dramatically, rising to its highest level around
26,000 years ago, indicating a very wet climate in the
Near East .
Around 10,000 years ago, the lake's level dropped dramatically,
probably to even lower than today's. During the last several thousand
years, the lake has fluctuated approximately 400 m (1,300 ft), with
some significant drops and rises. Current theories as to the cause of
this dramatic drop in levels rule out volcanic activity ; therefore,
it may have been a seismic event.
The Dead Sea's climate offers year-round sunny skies and dry air. It
has less than 50 millimetres (2 in) mean annual rainfall and a summer
average temperature between 32 and 39 °C (90 and 102 °F). Winter
average temperatures range between 20 and 23 °C (68 and 73 °F). The
region has weaker ultraviolet radiation , particularly the UVB
(erythrogenic rays). Given the higher atmospheric pressure , the air
has a slightly higher oxygen content (3.3% in summer to 4.8% in
winter) as compared to oxygen concentration at sea level. Barometric
pressures at the Dead
Sea were measured between 1061 and 1065 hPa and
clinically compared with health effects at higher altitude. (This
barometric measure is about 5% higher than sea level standard
atmospheric pressure of 1013.25 hPa, which is the global ocean mean or
ATM.) The Dead
Sea affects temperatures nearby because of the
moderating effect a large body of water has on climate. During the
winter, sea temperatures tend to be higher than land temperatures, and
vice versa during the summer months. This is the result of the water's
mass and specific heat capacity . On average, there are 192 days above
30C (86F) annually.
CLIMATE DATA FOR DEAD SEA, SEDOM (390 M BELOW SEA LEVEL)
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS
AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
Israel Meteorological Service
Halite deposits (and teepee structure) along the western Dead
Sea coast. Beach pebbles made of halite ; western Dead Sea
With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is one of the world\'s saltiest
bodies of water , though
Lake Vanda in
Antarctica (35%), Lake Assal in
Djibouti (34.8%), Lagoon
Garabogazköl in the
Caspian Sea (up to 35%)
and some hypersaline ponds and lakes of the
McMurdo Dry Valleys
McMurdo Dry Valleys in
Antarctica (such as
Don Juan Pond (44%)) have reported higher
Until the winter of 1978–79, when a major mixing event took place,
Sea was composed of two stratified layers of water that
differed in temperature, density, age, and salinity. The topmost 35
meters (115 ft) or so of the Dead
Sea had an average salinity of 342
parts per thousand (in 2002), and a temperature that swung between 19
°C (66 °F) and 37 °C (99 °F). Underneath a zone of transition, the
lowest level of the Dead
Sea had waters of a consistent 22 °C (72
°F) temperature and complete saturation of sodium chloride (NaCl).
Since the water near the bottom is saturated , the salt precipitates
out of solution onto the sea floor .
Beginning in the 1960s, water inflow to the Dead
Sea from the Jordan
River was reduced as a result of large-scale irrigation and generally
low rainfall. By 1975, the upper water layer was saltier than the
lower layer. Nevertheless, the upper layer remained suspended above
the lower layer because its waters were warmer and thus less dense.
When the upper layer cooled so its density was greater than the lower
layer, the waters mixed (1978–79). For the first time in centuries,
the lake was a homogeneous body of water. Since then, stratification
has begun to redevelop.
The mineral content of the Dead
Sea is very different from that of
ocean water. The exact composition of the Dead
Sea water varies mainly
with season, depth and temperature. In the early 1980s, the
concentration of ionic species (in g/kg) of Dead
Sea surface water was
Cl− (181.4), Br− (4.2), SO42− (0.4), HCO3− (0.2), Ca2+ (14.1),
Na+ (32.5), K+ (6.2) and Mg2+ (35.2). The total salinity was 276 g/kg.
These results show that the composition of the salt, as anhydrous
chlorides on a weight percentage basis, was calcium chloride (CaCl2)
14.4%, potassium chloride (KCl) 4.4%, magnesium chloride (MgCl2) 50.8%
and sodium chloride (NaCl) 30.4%. In comparison, the salt in the water
of most oceans and seas is approximately 85% sodium chloride . The
concentration of sulfate ions (SO42−) is very low, and the
concentration of bromide ions (Br−) is the highest of all waters on
The salt concentration of the Dead
Sea fluctuates around 31.5%. This
is unusually high and results in a nominal density of 1.24 kg/l.
Anyone can easily float in the Dead
Sea because of natural buoyancy .
In this respect the Dead
Sea is similar to the Great
Salt Lake in Utah
in the United States.
An unusual feature of the Dead
Sea is its discharge of asphalt . From
deep seeps , the Dead
Sea constantly spits up small pebbles and blocks
of the black substance. Asphalt-coated figurines and bitumen-coated
Neolithic skulls from archaeological sites have been found. Egyptian
mummification processes used asphalt imported from the Dead Sea
This article NEEDS MORE MEDICAL REFERENCES FOR VERIFICATION OR
RELIES TOO HEAVILY ON PRIMARY SOURCES. Please review the contents of
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Sea area has become a location for health research and
potential treatment for several reasons. The mineral content of the
water, the low content of pollens and other allergens in the
atmosphere , the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation ,
and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each may have
specific health effects . For example, persons experiencing reduced
respiratory function from diseases such as cystic fibrosis seem to
benefit from the increased atmospheric pressure.
The region's climate and low elevation have made it a popular center
for assessment of putative therapies:
Climatotherapy : Treatment which exploits local climatic features
such as temperature , humidity , sunshine , barometric pressure and
special atmospheric constituents
* Heliotherapy : Treatment that exploits the biological effects of
the sun 's radiation
Thalassotherapy : Treatment that exploits bathing in Dead Sea
Climatotherapy at the Dead
Sea may be a therapy for psoriasis by
sunbathing for long periods in the area due to its position below sea
level and subsequent result that
UV rays are partially blocked by the
increased cloud cover over the Dead Sea.
Rhinosinusitis patients receiving Dead
Sea saline nasal irrigation
exhibited improved symptom relief compared to standard hypertonic
saline spray in one study.
Sea mud pack therapy has been suggested to temporarily relieve
pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knees. According to
researchers of the
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Ben Gurion University of the Negev , treatment with
mineral-rich mud compresses can be used to augment conventional
medical therapy. Panorama of the Dead
Sea from the Mövenpick
FAUNA AND FLORA
Sea in the morning, seen from
The sea is called "dead" because its high salinity prevents
macroscopic aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants , from
living in it, though minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial
fungi are present.
In times of flood, the salt content of the Dead
Sea can drop from its
usual 35% to 30% or lower. The Dead
Sea temporarily comes to life in
the wake of rainy winters. In 1980, after one such rainy winter, the
normally dark blue Dead
Sea turned red. Researchers from Hebrew
Jerusalem found the Dead
Sea to be teeming with a type
of alga called
Dunaliella in turn nourished carotenoid
-containing (red-pigmented ) halobacteria , whose presence caused the
color change. Since 1980, the Dead
Sea basin has been dry and the
algae and the bacteria have not returned in measurable numbers.
In 2011 a group of scientists from Be'er Sheva,
Israel and Germany
discovered fissures in the floor of the Dead
Sea by scuba diving and
observing the surface. These fissures allow fresh and brackish water
to enter the Dead Sea. They sampled biofilms surrounding the fissures
and discovered numerous species of bacteria and archaea.
Many animal species live in the mountains surrounding the Dead Sea.
Hikers can see ibex , hares , hyraxes , jackals , foxes , and even
leopards . Hundreds of bird species inhabit the zone as well. Both
Israel have established nature reserves around the Dead
The delta of the
Jordan River was formerly a jungle of papyrus and
palm trees . The Jewish historian Flavius
Josephus described Jericho
as "the most fertile spot in
Judea ". In Roman and Byzantine times,
sugarcane , henna , and sycamore fig all made the lower
wealthy. One of the most valuable products produced by
Jericho was the
sap of the balsam tree, which could be made into perfume . By the 19th
century, Jericho's fertility had disappeared.
There are several small communities near the Dead Sea. These include
Ein Gedi ,
Neve Zohar and the Israeli settlements in the Megilot
Regional Council :
Mitzpe Shalem and
Avnat . There is a nature
preserve at Ein Gedi, and several Dead
Sea hotels are located on the
southwest end at
Ein Bokek near Neve Zohar. Highway 90 runs
north-south on the Israeli side for a total distance of 565 km (351
Metula on the Lebanese border in the north to its southern
terminus at the Egyptian border near the Red
Sea port of
Potash City is a small community on the Jordanian side of the Dead
Sea, and others including Suweima. Highway 65 runs north-south on the
Jordanian side from near Jordan's northern tip down past the Dead Sea
to the port of
Mount Sodom , Israel, showing the so-called "Lot\'s Wife "
pillar (made of halite like the rest of the mountain)
Dwelling in caves near the Dead
Sea is recorded in the Hebrew Bible
as having taken place before the Israelites came to Canaan, and
extensively at the time of King David.
Just northwest of the Dead
Jericho . Somewhere, perhaps on the
southeastern shore, would be the cities mentioned in the
Genesis which were said to have been destroyed in the time of Abraham
: Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 18) and the three other "Cities of the
Admah , Zeboim and Zoar (Deuteronomy 29:23). Zoar escaped
destruction when Abraham's nephew Lot escaped to Zoar from Sodom
(Genesis 19:21-22). Before the destruction, the Dead
Sea was a valley
full of natural tar pits , which was called the VALE OF SIDDIM. King
David was said to have hidden from
Ein Gedi nearby.
In Ezekiel 47:8-9 there is a specific prophecy that the sea will "be
healed and made fresh", becoming a normal lake capable of supporting
marine life . A similar prophecy is stated in Zechariah 14:8, which
says that "living waters will go out from
Jerusalem , half of them to
the eastern sea and half to the western sea ."
GREEK AND ROMAN PERIOD
Aristotle wrote about the remarkable waters. The Nabateans and others
discovered the value of the globs of natural asphalt that constantly
floated to the surface where they could be harvested with nets. The
Egyptians were steady customers, as they used asphalt in the embalming
process that created mummies . The Ancient Romans knew the Dead
"Palus Asphaltites" (
Herod the Great
Herod the Great built or rebuilt several fortresses and palaces
on the western bank of the Dead Sea. The most famous was
where in 70 CE a small group of Jewish zealots fled after the fall of
the destruction of the Second Temple . The zealots survived until 73
CE, when a siege by the X Legion ended in the deaths by suicide of its
960 inhabitants. Another historically important fortress was Machaerus
(מכוור), on the eastern bank, where, according to Josephus, John
the Baptist was imprisoned by
Herod Antipas and died.
Also in Roman times, some
Essenes settled on the Dead Sea's western
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder identifies their location with the words, "on
the west side of the Dead Sea, away from the coast ... the town of
Engeda" (Natural History, Bk 5.73); and it is therefore a hugely
popular but contested hypothesis today, that same
identical with the settlers at
Qumran and that "the Dead
Sea Scrolls "
discovered during the 20th century in the nearby caves had been their
Josephus identified the Dead
Sea in geographic proximity to the
ancient Biblical city of Sodom . However, he referred to the lake by
its Greek name, Asphaltites.
Various sects of Jews settled in caves overlooking the Dead Sea. The
best known of these are the
Qumran , who left an extensive
library known as the Dead
Sea Scrolls . The town of
Ein Gedi ,
mentioned many times in the
Mishna , produced persimmon for the
temple's fragrance and for export, using a secret recipe. "Sodomite
salt" was an essential mineral for the temple's holy incense, but was
said to be dangerous for home use and could cause blindness. The
Roman camps surrounding
Masada were built by Jewish slaves receiving
water from the towns around the lake. These towns had drinking water
from the Ein Feshcha springs and other sweetwater springs in the
Intimately connected with the Judean wilderness to its northwest and
west, the Dead
Sea was a place of escape and refuge. The remoteness of
the region attracted Greek Orthodox monks since the Byzantine era.
Their monasteries , such as
Saint George in
Wadi Kelt and
Mar Saba in
Judaean Desert , are places of pilgrimage .
In the 19th century the River
Jordan and the Dead
Sea were explored
by boat primarily by
Christopher Costigan in 1835, Thomas Howard
Molyneux in 1847,
William Francis Lynch in 1848, and John MacGregor in
1869. The full text of W. F. Lynch's 1949 book Narrative of the
United States\' Expedition to the River
Jordan and the Dead
Charles Leonard Irby and James Mangles travelled
along the shores of the Dead
Sea already in 1817-18, but didn't
navigate on its waters. World's lowest (dry) point,
Explorers and scientists arrived in the area to analyze the minerals
and research the unique climate.
After the find of the "Moabite Stone " in 1868 on the plateau east of
the Dead Sea,
Moses Wilhelm Shapira and his partner Salim al-Khouri
forged and sold a whole range of presumed "Moabite" antiquities, and
in 1883 Shapira presented what is now known as the "Shapira Strips", a
supposedly ancient scroll written on leather strips which he claimed
had been found near the Dead Sea. The strips were declared to be
forgeries and Shapira took his own life in disgrace.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, hundreds of religious documents
dated between 150 BCE and 70 CE were found in caves near the ancient
Qumran , about one mile (1.6 kilometres) inland from the
northwestern shore of the Dead
Sea (presently in the West Bank). They
became known and famous as the Dead
Sea Scrolls .
The world's lowest roads, Highway 90 , run along the Israeli and West
Bank shores of the Dead Sea, along with Highway 65 on the Jordanian
side, at 393 m (1,289 ft) below sea level.
TOURISM AND LEISURE
Ein Bokek , a resort on the Israeli shore
BRITISH MANDATE PERIOD
A golf course named for
Sodom and Gomorrah was built by the British
at Kalia on the northern shore.
The first major Israeli hotels were built in nearby Arad , and since
the 1960s at the
Ein Bokek resort complex.
Israel has 15 hotels along the Dead
Sea shore, generating total
revenues of $291 million in 2012. Most Israeli hotels and resorts on
Sea are on a six-kilometre (3.7-mile) stretch of the southern
Kempinski Hotel, one of the many hotels on the Jordanian shore
On the Jordanian side, nine international franchises have opened
seaside resort hotels near the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention
Center , along with resort apartments, on the eastern shore of the
Dead Sea. The 9 hotels have boosted the Jordanian side's capacity to
On November 22, 2015, the Dead
Sea panorama road was included along
with 40 archaeological locations in Jordan, to become live on Google
Street View .
The Palestinian Dead
Sea Coast is about 40 kilometres (25 miles)
long. The World Bank estimates that a Palestinian Dead
industry could generate $290 million of revenues per year and 2,900
jobs. However, Palestinians have been unable to obtain construction
permits for tourism-related investments on the Dead Sea. According to
the World Bank, Officials in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and
Antiquities state that the only way to apply for such permits is
through the Joint Committees established under the Oslo Agreement, but
the relevant committee has not met with any degree of regularity since
The southern basin of the Dead
Sea as of 1817-18, with the Lisan
Peninsula and its ford (now named Lynch Strait). North is to the
right. View of salt evaporation pans on the Dead Sea, taken in
1989 from the
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia (
STS-28 ). The southern half is
separated from the northern half at what used to be the Lisan
Peninsula because of the fall in level of the Dead Sea. View of
the mineral evaporation ponds almost 12 years later (
STS-102 ). A
northern and small southeastern extension were added and the large
polygonal ponds subdivided. The dwindling water level of the
BRITISH MANDATE PERIOD
In the early part of the 20th century, the Dead
Sea began to attract
interest from chemists who deduced the sea was a natural deposit of
potash (potassium chloride) and bromine . The Palestine
was chartered in 1929, after its founder, Siberian Jewish engineer and
Lake Baikal exploitation, Moses Novomeysky , worked for the
charter for over ten years. The first plant was on the north shore of
Kalya and produced potash by solar evaporation of the
brine. Employing Arabs and Jews, it was an island of peace in
turbulent times. The company quickly grew into the largest industrial
site in the Middle East, and in 1934 built a second plant on the
southwest shore, in the
Mount Sodom area, south of the \'Lashon\'
region of the Dead Sea. Palestine
Potash Company supplied half of
Britain's potash during
World War II
World War II . Both plants were destroyed by
the Jordanians in the
1948 Arab–Israeli War
1948 Arab–Israeli War .
Sea Works was founded in 1952 as a state-owned enterprise
based on the remnants of the Palestine
Potash Company. In 1995, the
company was privatized and it is now owned by
Israel Chemicals . From
Israel produces (2001) 1.77 million tons potash,
206,000 tons elemental bromine, 44,900 tons caustic soda , 25,000 tons
magnesium metal, and sodium chloride. Israeli companies generate
around US$3 billion annually from the sale of Dead
(primarily potash and bromine), and from other products that are
derived from Dead
On the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, Arab
Potash (APC), formed in
1956, produces 2.0 million tons of potash annually, as well as sodium
chloride and bromine. The plant is located at Safi, South Aghwar
Department, in the
Karak Governorate .
Sea mineral industries generate about $1.2 billion in
sales (equivalent to 4 percent of Jordan’s GDP).
The Palestinian Dead
Sea Coast is about 40 kilometres (25 miles)
long. The Palestinian economy is unable to benefit from Dead Sea
chemicals due to restricted access, permit issues and the
uncertainties of the investment climate. The World Bank estimates
that a Palestinian Dead
Sea chemicals industry could generate $918m
incremental value added per year, "almost equivalent to the
contribution of the entire manufacturing sector of Palestinian
Both companies, Dead
Sea Works Ltd. and Arab Potash, use extensive
salt evaporation pans that have essentially diked the entire southern
end of the Dead
Sea for the purpose of producing carnallite ,
potassium magnesium chloride, which is then processed further to
produce potassium chloride. The ponds are separated by a central dike
that runs roughly north-south along the international border. The
power plant on the Israeli side allows production of magnesium metal
(by a subsidiary, Dead
Due to the popularity of the sea's therapeutic and healing
properties, several companies have also shown interest in the
manufacturing and supplying of Dead
Sea salts as raw materials for
body and skin care products.
RECESSION AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance , whose first
phase will begin construction in 2018, will work towards stabilizing
the falling levels of the Dead Sea.
Since 1930, when its surface was 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) and its level
was 390 m (1,280 ft) below sea level, the Dead
Sea has been monitored
continuously. In recent decades, the Dead
Sea has been rapidly
shrinking because of diversion of incoming water from the
to the north. The southern end is fed by a canal maintained by the
Sea Works, a company that converts the sea's raw materials. From
a water surface of 395 m (1,296 ft) below sea level in 1970 it fell
22 m (72 ft) to 418 m (1,371 ft) below sea level in 2006, reaching a
drop rate of 1 m (3 ft) per year. As the water level decreases, the
characteristics of the
Sea and surrounding region may substantially
Sea level drop has been followed by a groundwater level
drop, causing brines that used to occupy underground layers near the
shoreline to be flushed out by freshwater. This is believed to be the
cause of the recent appearance of large sinkholes along the western
shore—incoming freshwater dissolves salt layers, rapidly creating
subsurface cavities that subsequently collapse to form these
sinkholes. Gully in unconsolidated Dead
Sea sediments exposed by
recession of water levels. It was excavated by floods from the Judean
Mountains in less than a year.
In May 2009 at the
World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum ,
Jordan announced its plans
to construct the "
Jordan National Red
Sea Development Project" (JRSP).
This is a plan to convey seawater from the Red
Aqaba to the
Water would be desalinated along the route to provide fresh
water to Jordan, with the brine discharge sent to the Dead
replenishment. The early planning called for developer and financier
selection to be completed by year's end, with detailed design to begin
in early 2010, and water delivery by 2017.
Israel expressed its
support and will likely benefit from some of the water delivery to its
Negev region. Some hydro-power will be collected near the Dead Sea
from the dramatic change in elevation on the downhill side of the
At a regional conference in July 2009, officials expressed concern
about the declining water levels. Some suggested industrial activities
around the Dead
Sea might need to be reduced. Others advised
environmental measures to restore conditions such as increasing the
volume of flow from the
Jordan River to replenish the Dead Sea.
Currently, only sewage and effluent from fish ponds run in the river's
channel. Experts also stressed the need for strict conservation
efforts. They said agriculture should not be expanded, sustainable
support capabilities should be incorporated into the area and
pollution sources should be reduced.
WATER LEVEL (M)
Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research,
Jewish Virtual Library ,
Jordan Valley Authority .
In October 2009, the Jordanians announced accelerated plans to
extract around 300 million cubic metres (11 billion cubic feet) of
water per year from the Red Sea, desalinate it for use as fresh water
and send the waste water to the Dead
Sea by tunnel, despite concerns
about inadequate time to assess the potential environmental impact.
According to Jordan's minister for water, General Maysoun Zu'bi, this
project could be considered as the first phase of the Red Sea–Dead
Water Conveyance .
In December 2013, Israel,
Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed
an agreement for laying a water pipeline to link the Red
Sea with the
Dead Sea. The pipeline will be 180 km (110 mi) long and is estimated
to take up to five years to complete. In January 2015 it was reported
that the level of water is now dropping by 1 m (3 ft) a year.
On 27 November 2016, it was announced that the Jordanian government
is shortlisting five consortiums to implement the project. Jordan's
Water and Irrigation said that the $100 million first
phase of the project will begin construction in the first quarter of
2018, and will be completed by 2021. Views in 1972, 1989, and
Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance
List of drying lakes
List of places on land with elevations below sea level
Benjamin Elazari Volcani
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