Science Behind The Dead Sea: Why Is It Called “Dead”?

In school, during library time, we used to commonly reach out for the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’, and the Dead Sea was always listed as the ‘Earth’s lowest elevation on land’. We were content with that piece of information, but did you ever ask why it is known as the Dead Sea?

The Dead Sea is a body of water bordered by Jordan on the east and Israel and Palestine to the west. Its source is the Jordan river. It is a hypersaline (extremely salty) lake and truly one of nature’s marvels. The shores of the lake are 423 m (1388 ft) below sea level, making it the lowest point on land.

israel-and-neighbours-map

The geographical location of the Dead sea

Why is it Called the Dead Sea?

Dead Sea Board

Credits:James Michael Dorsey/Shutterstock

With 33.7% salinity, it’s one of the saltiest water bodies on Earth. Also, it’s a landlocked lake with no outflow, so it is trapped to evaporate. Therefore, the salt concentration never decreases. It can either increase or stay stagnant.  The waters are devoid of all life forms, including plants or living creatures, thereby earning it the title of the “Dead” Sea.

The sea isn’t completely devoid of life, since microbes like bacteria and fungi are able to thrive in it.

Interesting Facts about the Dead Sea

(1) The Dead Sea’s unusually high salt concentration means that people can easily float in the Dead Sea due to natural buoyancy.

Dead Sea Lying

Credits:ProfStocker/Shutterstock

(2) The Dead Sea is roughly 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot survive.

Dead Sea Sunrise

Credits:Ido Meirovich/Shutterstock

(3) The Dead Sea area has become a major center for health research and treatment for several reasons. The mineral content of the water, the very low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each have specific health effects that millions of people try to take advantage of every year.

Dead Sea Therapy

Dead Sea Therapy (Credits:Anton Kudelin /Shutterstock)

In fact, Cleopatra used to go there just to bathe in its waters, due to its great therapeutic properties.

(4) The world’s lowest road, Highway 90, runs along the Israeli and West bank shores of the Dead Sea, which is 393 m below sea level.

Highway 90 Israel

Highway 90 (Credits:ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)

Pretty cool, huh?

 

References:

  1. Dead Sea – Wikipedia
  2. Live Science

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