PHOTOS: Sinkholes as deep as eight-story buildings form along shoreline of the disappearing Dead Sea

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

10 PHOTOS
Dead Sea Sinkholes
See Gallery
PHOTOS: Sinkholes as deep as eight-story buildings form along shoreline of the disappearing Dead Sea
A picture taken on February 8, 2014 near Ein Gedi, in Israel shows the Dead Sea shoreline shaped by the decline in water levels with a sinkhole (L) formed as a result of the drying up. The Dead Sea, 400 meters below sea level, is the lowest point on earth and its mineral-rich waters and shores have been celebrated for their cleansing, healing and therapeutic properties. AFP PHOTO THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view photo shows sinkholes created by the drying of the Dead Sea, near Kibbutz Ein Gedi, on November 10, 2011. The Dead Sea is one of the sites candidate of other 28 sits in a international online campaign votes to select the new Seven Wonders of World Heritage Sites. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view photo shows sinkholes created by the drying of the Dead Sea, near Kibbutz Ein Gedi, on November 10, 2011. The Dead Sea is one of the sites candidate of other 28 sits in a international online campaign votes to select the new Seven Wonders of World Heritage Sites. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view photo shows sinkholes created by the drying of the Dead Sea, near Kibbutz Ein Gedi, on November 10, 2011. The Dead Sea is one of the sites candidate of other 28 sits in a international online campaign votes to select the new Seven Wonders of World Heritage Sites. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view photo shows sinkholes created by the drying of the Dead Sea, near Kibbutz Ein Gedi, on November 10, 2011. The Dead Sea is one of the sites candidate of other 28 sits in a international online campaign votes to select the new Seven Wonders of World Heritage Sites. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view photo shows sinkholes created by the drying of the Dead Sea, near Kibbutz Ein Gedi, on November 10, 2011. The Dead Sea is one of the sites candidate of other 28 sits in a international online campaign votes to select the new Seven Wonders of World Heritage Sites. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial view photo shows sinkholes created by the drying of the Dead Sea, near Kibbutz Ein Gedi, on November 10, 2011. The Dead Sea is one of the sites candidate of other 28 sits in a international online campaign votes to select the new Seven Wonders of World Heritage Sites. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken Thursday, May 28, 2009, a woman bathes in the Dead Sea. Geologist Eli Raz says the sinkholes phenomenon, underground craters that can burrow to the surface in an instant, sucking in whatever lies above, stems from a dire water shortage, compounded in recent years by a growing population and robust tourism and chemical industries in the Dead Sea area. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
In this photo taken Thursday, May 28, 2009, a woman bathes in the Dead Sea. Geologist Eli Raz says the sinkholes phenomenon, underground craters that can burrow to the surface in an instant, sucking in whatever lies above, stems from a dire water shortage, compounded in recent years by a growing population and robust tourism and chemical industries in the Dead Sea area. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


The Dead Sea is disappearing at an alarming rate, leaving behind thousands of sinkholes that are chipping away at the coastline's vibrant and touristy atmosphere.

The Dead Sea - which is actually a lake - is known for being almost 10 times as salty as the ocean and for having the lowest elevation on Earth. However, over the last few decades, the shoreline has become known for sinkholes that appear to just pop up out of nowhere.

More than 3,000 sinkholes exist along the banks of the Dead Sea, ABC News reported. And some of these craters dive 80 feet into the ground - the equivalent of about an eight-story building.

Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director at EcoPeace Middle East, told ABC news that "these sinkholes are the direct result of inappropriate mismanagement of water resources in the region."

The Dead Sea is robbed of 2 billion gallons of water each year because of water diverted from the lake's main water source - the Jordan River - since the 1960s, according to the American Associate, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Mining of minerals from the Dead Sea has also contributed to the disappearance of the lake's dense and salty water.

The 2 billion gallons of water translates to a decline in water levels of a meter every year (on average) or a total of 30 meters since 1970, according to research conducted by Duke University.

"With the Dead Sea level dropping so rapidly [a meter a year, on average], these sinkholes are inevitable," said Mark Wilson, a geology professor at the College of Wooster.

While researchers have agreed on different hypotheses, not many disagree that the declining water levels are behind the phenomenon.

David Ozsvath, a professor of Geology at the University of Wisconsin, said beneath the clay-like surface layer are cavernous spaces that are filled with water. However, as these subterranean spaces dry up with the receding water levels, the surface layer can collapse into the emptied space creating chasms along the banks.

Ozsvath said some sinkholes form over time, while others appear overnight. An earthquake or even heavy rain can cause a sinkhole to collapse into the drained voids in the subsurface.

He added that the number of developing sinkholes could be reduced by diverting less water from the Jordan River and allowing water levels in the Dead Sea to rise.

Read Full Story

People are Reading