The Dead Sea Ecosystem
The Dead Sea is unique in the sense that it is a natural geodynamic laboratory in which the tectonic processes that take place during continental breakup can be studied in situ. Research in this area has shed light on processes through which large features on the earth's crust, such as the Rhine Graben in Europe or the Baikal Rift in Siberia have been created.
Throughout the its geological history, the Dead Sea fault valley was occupied by a series of lakes that disappeared and reappeared over time due to climatic and geological changes in the area. The last of these lakes, known as Lake Lisan, stretched from the northern Arava Valley to the Sea of Galilee. About 15,000 years ago it dried up, leaving behind what is known now as the present-day Dead Sea.
The Unique Waters of the Dead
The extreme negative elevation in combination with the tectonically elevated mountains that flank the basin promotes a very arid environment marked by low precipitation and high evaporation. Water that enters the Dead Sea has no outlet in this actively subsided basin. These conditions control the physical, chemical and biological properties of the inland lake. The hypersaline Dead Sea water is dense with 30% dissolved solid, the highest salinity of any lake on Earth. The dissolved material includes high concentrations of potassium, bromine and magnesium salts, which are commercially exploited. These salts apparently constitute Israel and Jordan's most extensive natural resource.
Active tectonic processes that control all aspects of the Dead Sea have created an environment that has influenced the course of human history as the critical land bridge between the continents of Africa and Asia. The historical and archaeological associations of this area are extensive. To name but few, it is in this region that Jericho, the oldest city in the world is located, the Dead Sea scrolls were found and Sodom and Gommorah once existed. Many historians and archaeologists believe that the region has much to yield in regard to biblical understanding.
region is thus of considerable scientific, economic and historical
interest, with many important and interesting problems to study. This
is why the Minerva Dead Sea Research Center was established at Tel Aviv