I was teaching Geography to my nephew, when he came up with an intelligent question “Why is it called Dead Sea?” Leaving me to ponder over this, he went out to play- smart boy!!
Finally after going through some books and doing research on net (I don’t rely totally on internet, because of the vast amount of false information present there), I found out the detailed reason behind it. And boy!! That was some interesting stuff!
So here is the result of my research for you to read.
Dead Sea lies on the border of Jordan and Israel. It has the lowest elevation on earth—1,373 feet (419 m) below sea level at the water’s surface. (Highest elevation on earth is of Mt. Everest. You might be interested to read about the controversy surrounding the first man to reach Mt. Everest). And what’s more-the Dead Sea is still sinking lower every year.
What is ‘deadly’ about Dead Sea?
Dead Sea has got very salty water, almost six to seven times more salty than an ocean! If you go 300 feet below the surface, the salt content reaches as high as 300 gm per kg of water- which is 10 times the salinity of ocean. And this is not the ordinary salt we use at home. These are mineral salts consisting mainly of potash and bromide.
Because of such high salt content, fish or any other water living creature can’t survive in it. If a fresh water fish by mistake swims to Dead Sea, it instantly dies, and its body gets covered with salt crystals.
There are, however, several types of bacteria and algae found in Dead Sea.
What makes the water so salty?
As you can see from the map above, the Dead Sea is completely landlocked. It gets its supply of water from the rivers (mainly river Jordan) and streams flowing down the mountains surrounding it. Along with water the rivers brings with it minerals and salts from the mountains- which is a normal process happening with all seas. But the catch is here- there is no water flowing out of the Dead Sea. The only way water goes out of the sea is through evaporation. When water evaporates, it leaves behind all the mineral salts in the sea- thus increasing the salt concentration.
Is it deadly for human beings also?
The answer is no. What is interesting is the fact that you can float in this water! Because of extremely high salt concentration, the water is very dense- so much so that our bodies are buoyant in its water. You won’t sink even if you can’t swim.
The only problem that you might face is that the water has a nauseous taste and is oily to touch.
I hope you found this piece of information as interesting as it appeared to me. Do tell how you found it through your comments.
Update: Sharon, through her comment, has informed about the therapeutic effect of black mud surrounding the Dead Sea. Thanks for sharing Sharon.
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