Dead Sea

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Dead Sea,

salt lake, c.390 sq mi (1,010 sq km), extending c.45 mi (70 km) in the Jordan trough of the Great Rift ValleyGreat Rift Valley,
geological fault system of SW Asia and E Africa. It extends c.3,000 mi (4,830 km) from N Syria to central Mozambique. The northernmost extension runs S through Syria and Lebanon, the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea, and the Gulf of Aqaba.
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 between the GhorGhor, the,
Arabic Al Ghawr, region of the Jordan Valley, c.70 mi (110 km) long, between the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and the Dead Sea, on the border of Jordan and Israel and the West Bank.
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 on the north and Wadi ArabahArabah
or Araba
, depression, on the Israel-Jordan border, extending c.100 mi (160 km) from the Dead Sea S to the Gulf of Aqaba; part of the Great Rift Valley complex. Limestone, salt, and potash are mined near the Dead Sea.
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 on the south, on the border between Israel and the West Bank (W) and Jordan (E). The shore of the Dead Sea, historically about 1,295 ft (395 m) below sea level but now some 100 ft (30 m) lower, is the lowest dry point on earth.

Situated between steep, rocky cliffs, 2,500 to 4,000 ft (762–1,219 m) high, the Dead Sea is divided by the Al Lisan peninsula into two basins—a larger northern basin now 1,240 ft (378 m) deep, and a smaller, shallow southern basin, now separated from the northern basin and divided into evaporation ponds. The lake is fed by the Jordan River and a number of small streams; it has no outlet. Because it is located in a very hot and dry region, the Dead Sea loses much water through evaporation; its level fluctuates during the year. Inflow has been greatly reduced by the increased use of the waters of the Jordan and its tributaries for irrigation, and that, along with the use of evaporation ponds to produce potash and other minerals, has led to falling water levels since the 1960s. A 2013 agreement by Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority involving regional water resources called for the lake to be replenished with the brine by-produced by a planned desalination plant at Aqaba, Jordan. In prehistoric times, the lake has been much larger, filling the entire Jordan trough from S of the Dead Sea to N of the Sea of Galilee as Lake Lisan some 25,000 years ago, and much smaller, perhaps completely dry, 120,000 years ago.

One of the saltiest water bodies in the world, the Dead Sea supports no life. It yields large amounts of mineral salts; potash and bromine are commercially extracted. The ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were on the southwestern shore; present-day Sodom is the site of mineral-salt extraction works. The Dead Sea coast in Israel and the West Bank is the site of beaches, spas, and tourist hotels. Biblical names for the salt lake include Salt Sea, East Sea, and Sea of the Plain.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dead Sea


a drainless salt lake in Jordan and Israel, covering 1,050 sq km. It is 76 km long and has a maximum width of 17 km and a maximum depth of 356 m. It occupies the lowest part of the al-Ghor tectonic depression, lying 395 m below sea level, the lowest point on earth. The western and eastern shores are steep and rocky, and a coastal plain bounds the sea on the north and south. The sea is fed primarily by the Jordan River, which flows into it from the north. The hot, dry climate, with an annual precipitation of 50 to 100 mm, contributes to the intensive evaporation and high mineral content of the water. The water’s average salinity is 260–270 parts per thousand, reaching 310 parts per thousand in some years. In the composition of the mineral salts MgCl (52 percent) and NaCl (30 percent) predominate, and there are significant amounts of KC1 and MgBr. The high mineral content of the water makes organic life impossible, with the exception of certain species of bacteria. There is considerable fluctuation in the water level (as much as 12 m in historical times). The shores of the sea are a desert, although there are a few oases. Mineral salts are extracted along the southern shore.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

dead sea

[¦ded ′sē]
A body of water that has undergone precipitation of its rock salt, gypsum, or other evaporites.

Dead Sea

[¦ded ′sē]
A salt lake between Jordan and Israel.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Dead Sea

a lake between Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank, 417 m (1373 ft.) below sea level; originally 390 m (1285 ft.): the lowest lake in the world, with no outlet and very high salinity; outline, esp at the southern end, reduced considerably in recent years. Area: originally about 950 sq. km (365 sq. miles); by 2003 about 625 sq. km (240 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005