THE DEAD SEA - A NATURAL WONDER
DR.S. M. ALAM
July 13 - 19, 2009
The Dead Sea is a natural wonder, which is situated in the centre of the great Syrian-African rift valley between Israel and Jordan. The Dead Sea is a big inland lake about 76 kilometers long up to 18 kilometers wide and 400 meters deep at the deepest point.
It is the lowest point on dry land in the world (417 meters below sea level and devoid of any life). Another record held by the Dead Sea is that it has the highest salt concentration of any of the world's seas, salt lakes or any stretch of water.
The salt concentration in the Dead Sea is ten times higher than other seas of the world (for example, the salt concentration in the Dead Sea is 35.1%, while the concentration in the Mediterranean Sea is only 3.5%). The other seas in the world have 3.5 to 4.0% of total salts.
There are elements in very small quantity and these are: He, Li, Be, B, C, N ion, Ne, Al, Si, Sc, V, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu.Zn, As, Ge, Kr, Sr, Zr, Nb, Mo, Cd, Sb, I, Cs, Ba, Pb, U, etc.
In a similar manner, the salty water of Arabian Sea at Karachi, Sindh is about 3.5%. This type of seawater is not al all suitable for growing economical crops. However, mangroves and seaweeds can be grown easily because these are salt loving plants.
This high salt concentration makes floating in its waters effortless. The high salinity of the waters in the Dead Sea prevents the existence of life in the water, as it names. Minerals found in the Dead Sea are known around the world for their healing qualities and are distributed around the world under the name Cosmetics. Man comes to Dead Sea to bathe in mineral rich mud, which is considered to have many medicinal benefits. Its natural properties make it a prime centre for spa treatments and relaxation therapies, and these are a number of resorts in the area. The Jordan River is the only major watercourse flowing into the Dead Sea. There are no other outlets streams. The northern part of the Dead Sea receives scarcely100 mm of rain a year. The southern section barely has 50 mm. The Dead Sea zone's aridity is due to the rain shadow effect of the Judean hills. The highland east of the Dead Sea receives more rainfall than the Dead Sea itself.
The Dead Sea climate offers year-round sunny skies and dry air with low pollution. It has less than 50 mm mean annual rainfall and a summer average temperature between 32 and 39oC. Winter average temperatures range between 20 and 23oC. The region has weakened ultraviolet radiation, particularly the UVB and an atmosphere characterized by high oxygen content due to the high barometer pressure.
Proximity to the sea affects the temperature of a place because the sea temperature changes due to penetration of the sun in the summer. During winter months, sea temperatures tend to be much higher than summer temperature and vice-versa during summer months, this is the outcome of slow penetration from the sun into the sea as it is a huge mass and takes a long time to warm up. No one can drown in the Dead Sea. Even a person who does not know swimming will not drown in the salty water of the Dead Sea. It is a miracle sea. It is a wonder of the world. People all over the world respect the name of Dead Sea.
Until the winter of 1978-79, the Dead Sea was composed of two stratified layers of water that differed in temperature, density, age, and salinity. The topmost 35 meters or so of the Dead Sea had a salinity that ranged between 300 and 400 parts per thousand and temperature that swung between 19oC (66oF) and 37oC (98oF). Underneath a zone of transition, the lowest level of the Dead Sea had waters of a consistent 22oC (72oF) temperature and complete saturation of sodium chloride (NaCl). Since the water near the bottom is saturated, the salt precipitates out of solution onto the sea floor.
The total salinity was 276g/kg. In comparison, the salt in the water of most oceans and sea is approximately 97%.
The Dead Sea area has become a major centre for health research and treatment for several reasons. Persons suffering from reduced respiratory function from disease such as cystic fibrosis seem to benefit from the increased atmospheric pressure. Sufferers of the skin disorder psoriasis also benefit from the ability to sun bathe for long periods in the area due to its position below sea level and subsequent result that many of the Sun's harmful UV rays are reduced. Furthermore, Dead Sea salt has been found to be beneficial to psoriasis patients. The sea is called "Dead" because its high salinity means no macroscopic aquatic organisms such as fish or water plants can live in it, though minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present. In times of flood, the salt content of the Dead Sea can drop from its usual 35% salinity to 30% or lower. In the wake of rainy winters, the Dead Sea temporarily comes to life. In 1980, after one such winter, the normally dark blue Dead Sea turned red. This was due to the presence of algae called Dunaliella. Dunaliella in turn nourished carotenoid-containing (red-pigmented) halo bacteria whose presence is responsible for the color change. Presently, after desalinization of Dead Sea the different kinds of vegetables crops are grown using the water of the Dead Sea without any difficulty.
Many animal species make their homes in the mountains surrounding the Dead Sea. A hiker can see camels, ibex, hares, hyraxes, jackals, foxes, and even leopards. Hundreds of birds' species inhibit the zone as well.
Jordan and its neighboring countries have established nature reserves around the Dead Sea. Papyrus and palm trees are also found in and around the sea. The Dead Sea has some religious history and it is a pious place for the monotheistic three religions of the world. One must respect the religious motto of that place without any dispute. The Dead Sea teaches many useful lessons to the people of the world.