THE DEAD SEA
The Dead Sea, also called the Salt Sea, is a Salt Lake bordering Jordan to the east, and Israel to the west. Its surface and shores are 427 meters below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 306 m deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is also one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. It is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea is 50 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide at its widest point. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.
As a large body of salt water, the shores of the Dead Sea glitter with crystallized sodium chloride, where the sun evaporates the water, in colors of white and turquoise. It was formerly divided into two basins, but in the late 1970s the surface dropped significantly, and the southern basin has dried out. This drop has changed the physical appearance of the Dead Sea. The air is redolent of sulfur, rising from its mud, which is rich in bromine. The northern beaches are full of mud, whereas the southern beaches feature interesting salt formations. The water of the Dead Sea looks almost oily due to its high salinity and density.
The Dead Sea is located in the Syro-African Rift, a 4000-mile fault line in the earth’s crust. It is so named because of its high mineral content that disallows the survival of any living being, except for a few bacteria, in its waters. The lowest point of dry land on earth is the shoreline of the Dead Sea, which is at 1300 feet below sea level. Another interesting detail is that the water from the Dead Sea never drains since it is below the Sea level. However, 7 million tons of water evaporates daily from the Dead Sea leaving behind the minerals that cause the rise in its salt content. The salinity of the Dead Sea’s ranges from 26-35%.
The mummification process followed by the Egyptians required Asphalt. This Asphalt is said to have been extracted from the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea constantly spits up small pebbles and blocks of the black substance. Asphalt coated collectibles and bitumen coated Neolithic skulls have also been found from archaeological sites.
Along with the table salt, the Dead Sea provides at least 35 different kinds of mineral salts (like those found in oceans) in massive quantities. Some of these minerals include potassium, bromine, calcium, magnesium and iodine.
The Dead Sea covers roughly 250 square miles (402 square km) and is located in a valley amid the West Bank, Jordan and Israel. The Jordan River, its onetime main tributary, is believed by many to be the place where Jesus was baptized.
The Dead Sea’s unusually high salt concentration gives the Dead Sea its natural buoyancy making people easily float in it. Also, this area has become a major center for health research and treatment for several reasons. Some of the major reasons that affect human health in many positives’ ways are said to be the high mineral content of the water, the very low content of pollen and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the high atmospheric pressure at this great depth.