The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.
The Dead Sea came into being as a result of the gradual dehydration of the great Lisan Lake, which once stretched from the northern banks of the Sea of Galilee to the present southern rim of the Dead Sea. It contains the residue of salts and minerals of the former lake. The waters from a very large area drain into the Sea, bereft of an outlet in the midst of a hot, dry desert, the sea’s waters evaporate quickly, leaving new deposits of saline sediment. It is six times more salty than the water of the Mediterranean Sea. The Dead Sea is about 830 square kilometers in size, at its widest point it measures 17 kilometers. It is divided in two separate basins: the deeper northern basin, about 55 kilometers long, and the shallower southern basin, 20 kilometers long. The Dead Sea occupies the lowest point on earth, close to 400 meters below sea level.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the water level reached its peak for the modern period: about 10 or 11 meters above current level. This level remained constant until the 1930’s and then began to drop. Now the water level goes down close to one meter per year. The factors of human interference: the damming of the sea of Galilee and The Yabok River in Jordan, and the exploitation of the floodwaters that flow to the Dead Sea, have contributed to the decline of the water flow,. This produces new phenomena: the absence of salt flats, the disappearance of the Whitening of the Dead Sea., and the appearance of sinkholes among others.
Its surface and shores are 430.5 meters (1,412 ft) below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. It is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With a salinity of 342 g/kg, it is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water – 9.6 times as salty as the ocean – and has a density of 1.24 kg/liter, which makes swimming similar to floating. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea’s main northern basin is 50 kilometers (31 mi) long and 15 kilometers (9 mi) wide at its widest point.
The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean Basin for thousands of years. It was one of the world’s first health resorts and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from asphalt for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers.
The Dead Sea is receding at a swift rate; its surface area today is 605 km (234 sq mi), having been 1,050 km (410 sq mi) in 1930. The recession of the Dead Sea has begun causing problems, and multiple canals and pipelines proposals exist to reduce its recession. One of these proposals is the Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, which will provide water to neighboring countries, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilize its water level. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and be completed in 2021.
The area is ridden with sinkholes that have been growing at an alarming rate. We shall investigate this further as we explore the Dead Sea with your designated tour guide.