Death of the Dead Sea
by Mariasilvia Giamberini, National Council of Research, Pisa, Italy
For centuries, the Jordan river nurtured the populations living besides its shores as well as ecosystems, eventually pouring its waters into the Dead Sea. Nowadays, the water uptake has increased so much as to cause the lake to shrink and the water level to recede at the rate of one meter per year. As this unique lake is disappearing, the surface of the salty banks, now uncovered above the water level, is eroded by freshwater: the salt contained in the subterranean layers of the mud dissolves and forms hollow cavities that cause the surface to collapse. The formation of such sinkholes has been observed since the '70s on both sides of the lake. Up to now, more than 3,000 sinkholes have been counted, and new ones open every day, also causing damages to infrastructures and endangering people.
To stop this phenomenon, and to prevent the Dead Sea to disappear, the lake should be supplied by freshwater as it was in the past, but this is unlikely to happen, since the Jordan river flow is now less than 10% of its original amount.
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Mariasilvia Giamberini (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)