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The Dead Sea Is Disappearing, but It Could Be Saved [Slide Show]

Scientists analyze sinkholes and how mixing waters might alter the sea

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SOLUTION AT HAND?

To save the Dead Sea, some officials propose building a $10 billion,180-kilometer system of pipes that could bring water from the Red Sea. Scientists are testing how the mixing waters might affect the lake's chemistry and life.....[ More ]

A SECOND CULPRIT:

The Dead Sea is disappearing in part because Israeli and Jordanian companies pump water from the lake and dump it into vast ponds that evaporate, leaving behind concentrated minerals.....[ More ]

UNDERLYING CAUSE:

Geologist Amotz Agnon from Jerusalem University explains how dissolution causes sinkholes to form. As salty lake water recedes, underground saltwater recedes with it. Fresher underground water moves in, contacts salt layers below the surface and dissolves them, causing the surface to collapse.....[ More ]

DIVING FOR DATA:

Assaf retrieves the acoustic data.....[ More ]

SAFETY FIRST:

The rope acts as a safety line should the crater begin to empty.....[ More ]

MYSTERIOUS ACTIVITY:

Some big sinkholes fill with water for weeks, then drain rapidly, only to fill again. Researchers have installed an acoustic monitoring system in one such hole to continuously measure the cycle. Here Assaf, a student from Haifa University, prepares a taught rope to help him reach the system and recover data.....[ More ]

PIT STOP:

Raz and his assistant spend a few hours each day mapping the ongoing evolution of craters.....[ More ]

HAZARDOUS SCIENCE:

A sinkhole can form without warning. Geologist Eli Raz was swallowed by a suddenly collapsing pit and stuck for 14 hours until rescue teams found him.....[ More ]

DEVELOPMENT SUNK:

Sinkholes ruin towns and tourism, and have halted development along the sea's coastline, because no one can predict where the next hole will open.....[ More ]

HOLE AFTER HOLE:

More than 3,000 sinkholes have opened around the perimeter—in recent years, about one every two days.....[ More ]

BEACHFRONT A DISTANT MEMORY:

In certain places, the water's edge has receded a full kilometer from the shore. Local resident Eli Ron shows where the sea used to be.....[ More ]

SEA IN RETREAT:

The surface of the Dead Sea, already 424 meters below sea level, is falling by a meter a year. Jordanians to the east, Israelis to the west, and Syrians and Lebanese to the north are pumping so much freshwater from the Jordan River that almost none reaches the sea any more.....[ More ]

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