Dead Sea research

Natural and human-induced dynamic processes in the Dead Sea rift: a framework for monitoring & and research, 2013-2016

The Dead Sea (DS) rapid desiccation is expressed by its drop in water level at a rate that exceeds 1 m/yr, which is caused by human activity in the surrounding countries. Therefore, according to governmental decision #4254 from February 12, 2012, the Geological Survey of Israel (GSI) conducts monitoring and research on the consequences ensuing from the DS level drop. This activity of the GSI started in 2012 and will continue until 2016, with a gross budget of 11 million NIS.  The research framework includes monitoring of the DS water mass, collapse of its infrastructure due to the DS shrinkage, environmental impacts of the DS level drop and possible level increase by the proposed Red-Dead Sea canal, and earthquake and other risks. These projects of the GSI focusing on the Dead Sea are a continuation of research ongoing since 2008, following the previous governmental decisions concerning the infrastructure instability along the DS coast. The novelty of the present activity is the limnological research of the DS water body itself, in addition to the coastal infrastructure response.  The GSI efforts will also include investigations of ad hoc requirements of the steering committee. 
During 2015, the GSI DS framework included about 20 various aspects of research. For each research project the GSI prepares an annual summary and final report, in addition to layers of Geographical Information System (GIS) for several types of potential and hazard maps. So far, six annual reports have been prepared and are available through the GSI website. During the course of the DS studies at the GSI, a variety of research tools were applied, including advanced techniques of remote sensing (e.g., LiDAR and InSAR), seismic and microseismic monitoring, active geophysics (refraction, reflection, diffraction, ground penetrating radar, GPR, microgravity), GPS, boreholes, time-lapse cameras, geochemistry of groundwater and runoffs, geomorphological analyses, optic fibers for measurements of water temperature.




Research outputs:

  • Potential maps for sinkhole developments, also in GIS format, updated every 2-4 years.
  • Consulting with authorities on roads and resort areas, and precursory warning on sinkhole collapses.
  • Understanding additional factors and complications in the mechanism of sinkhole formation.
  • Limnological simulations about the influence of the Red Sea – Dead Sea canal on the Dead Sea water body and the evaporation ponds.
  • Future implications resulting from the advancement of the Dead Sea level drop. 
  • Natural hazards in the Dead Sea rift – landslides, liquefaction, amplification of seismic waves, active faulting. 
    Research products are usually delivered to the governmental body of national mapping, namely, the Israel Survey, and to a broad range of customers such as the regional councils, the DS chemical industries, the National Company for Roads, the committee of national infrastructure, the Bureau of Standards, etc.  


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