Programme / Can Science Save the Dead Sea‹ back to Programme lister
Wednesday / 8 nov
16:30 - 18:00
The Dead Sea represents a unique environment of a hyper saline terminal lake located in a pull-apart basin, which is one of the main components of the Jordan Dead Sea Transform Fault System, the active Plate boundary between the Arabian and African plates. The lake is the lowest place on Earth with an elevation of about 432 m bMSL in November 2017. Most of the valuable Dead Sea coastal areas are over complex faulted zones related to the lake’s pull-apart basin, an area prone to rather infrequent and strong earthquakes that are occasionally involving some soil liquefaction. Most of the area is also characterized by karstic and fractured rock formations that are genetically connected with faults. Karstic conduits extend from land into the sea, and the prevailing seaward sloping rock strata. A steep escarpment characterises the morphology. The difference in the elevation between the lake’s level and the Jordanian highlands to the east exceeds 1200 m over a horizontal distance of 15 km. Hot and sulphur springs are found in many places in the area. Due to the maximum level of the lake at about 180 m bMSL in the Pleistocene, marine saline sediments deposits are the direct cause of the observed high salinity of some springs adjacent to the shore.
Since the 1960s, the Dead Sea water level has been dropping at an accelerating rate: from about 60 cm/yr. in the 1970s to 100 cm/yr. in the 2000s to about 140 cm/yr. in 2017. This is causing the expected environmental problems of shoreline withdrawal, subsidence, landslides, and swarms of rapidly proliferating, highly hazardous sinkholes affecting some segments of the coastal areas, thus putting infrastructures at risk. Avoiding most consequences of the worsening degradation of some parts of the Dead Sea shore requires more support for our scientific efforts aiming at developing an Early Warning System based on close monitoring of the cumulative tiny deformations taking place in critical areas before catastrophic events. The EWS is the focus of our research since 1991. The talk will expose the Dead Sea induced environmental degradation and the EWS way to help avoiding the consequences.