Study: Dead Sea once almost dried up

Jan. 20, 2012 at 3:09 PM
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JERUSALEM, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Scientists say a research drilling project in the Dead Sea suggests its waters dried up almost completely as a result of climate change about 125,000 years ago.

Drilling efforts to 300 yards deep in the center of the sea recovered sediments revealing information about ancient climactic conditions both in the Dead Sea region and in areas as far as the Arabian and Sahara deserts, researchers said.

"We think that the Dead Sea is a key locality to reconstruct and establish the variations of the regional climate of this area of the Mediterranean," Mordechai Stein of the Geological Survey of Israel and the Hebrew University told The Jerusalem Post.

The information will allow scientists to model the effects of global warming for the future, he said.

A preliminary analysis of cores from 250 yards below the seafloor found thick layers of salt covered by rock pebbles, indicating a period in which the sea had almost entirely dried up, researchers said.

"In order to deposit such a thick sequence of salt, the conditions in the drainage area were very arid -- there was no supply of freshwater," Stein said. "Then the layer of pebbles on top of the salt tells us that the shorelines were not far away."

The findings should serve as a warning, researches said, for the condition and potential future drying of today's Dead Sea, which is 1,400 feet below sea level and continually sinking.

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