The Dead Sea
By Peter Olsen, 3/18/02

The Dead Sea lies between Israel and Jordan. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea, along with some mineral springs. The mountains of Moab are to the east, and the Judean mountains are to the west. The air around the Dead Sea is hot and dry. The average high temperature is 122 degrees F. The air at the Dead Sea is more dense than at other places. The oxygen level is 10 times higher than any other place on earth.

The Dead Sea is really a lake. It is called a sea because it is salty. Its surface is 1,300 feet below sea level. In places, the Dead Sea is 1,312 feet deep. The Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth. The Dead Sea is about 46-50 miles long and 8 1/2-11 miles wide. It is at the northern end of a fault line that runs down through eastern Africa, known as the Great Rift Valley.

The Dead Sea is salty because it has no outlet. The water leaves only by evaporation. The Dead Sea loses about 10 cm of water a year in this way. It is almost impossible to sink in the Dead Sea. At 26-35% salinity, the Dead Sea is 5-6 times saltier than the ocean. The Dead Sea is the saltiest body of water in the world. Nothing can live in the Dead Sea except some bacteria.

The water of the Dead Sea contains 21 dissolved minerals. 12 of these are found in no other sea or ocean. There are very high levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and bromide. Mineral salts, potash and bromine are extracted for commercial use.

The Old Testament name for the Dead Sea was the Salt Sea. It has been part of biblical history since Abrahamís time. The Dead Sea was a barrier that blocked travel to Judah from the east. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah probably lay at the southern end of the Dead Sea. It is thought that an earthquake caused the Dead Sea to cover the towns.

Aristotle, the Queen of Sheba, King David, King Herod, Jesus, John the Baptist, King Solomon, and Cleopatra were all familiar with the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea was mentioned in Genesis 14:3 and Joshua 3:16. The Dead Sea Scrolls are pieces of parchment with books of the Bible on them. They were found in 11 caves near the Dead Sea.

The water level of the Dead Sea is dropping by about a foot per year. It is being diverted by Israel and Jordan for industry, agriculture and household use. Scientists predict that the sea may be dried up by the year 2050. Ezekiel 47:1-12 prophesied that one day the Dead Sea will be fresh water and fishermen will spread their nets along the shore.

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