Following the latest incident in which a Tel Aviv University student, Idan Shadmi, was seriously when falling into a Dead Sea sinkhole, a Tel Aviv University physics professor, claims to have created a seismic warning system that will be able to give an indication when one of these holes, mostly located on the western shore, is about to open up.
Idan was hiking in the area with his girlfriend when the ground suddenly opened up below them. Shadami was able to help push his friend out the opening gap but not before he was swallowed up – resulting in him receiving serious injuries.
The continuing receding of the water in the Dead Sea has resulted in instability of the ground on the seashore, when brine deposits are dissolved by fresh surface water, resulting in a cavity or sink hole forming.
In recent years, literally thousands of sink holds have formed, most of them on Israel’s western side. They can be very dangerous, and threaten roads, hotels and peoples’ lives.
TAU’s Dr. Lev Eppelbaum, together with French and Jordanian researchers, have developed a system in which 3-D echo monitoring device can locate a potential sinkhole, due the area having a weaker gravitational field than the area surrounding it.
Eppelbaum has been working on the project, sponsored by the NATO Science for Peace Program, together with colleagues from the University of Grenoble in France, and academics from Jordan.
Eppelbaum said that the sinkholes, some of them quite large, are unique of the Dead Sea, and have been created due to the receding waters which have occurred due to diversion of water from the Jordan River, together with natural evaporation and depletion by the industries located there (both the Jordanian and Israeli mining industries extract more than 4 million tons of potash, bromines and other chemicals annually.
Unless a solution is found to at least predict when the next sinkholes will form, Eppelbaum fears that the entire Dead Sea industries, including tourism, will be in jeopardy.
The project is now plagued by a lack of funds, which could threaten it with closure. “We cannot product when the next sinkholes will appear unless we can monitor the entire area, he was quoted as saying.
As far as preventing the sinkholes from forming, Eppelbaum said that this can only happen by bringing water from either the Mediterranean or Red Seas to replenish what has been lost. But even then, there is no way of knowing if a different mineral composition in the Dead Sea will not be a problem in itself, as the Dead Sea’s current mineral composition is unique, he added.
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[image via gallery photo]