|Israeli Scientists Drilling in Dead Sea to Unearth Treasures may Answer Scientific Questions|
A scientist displays layers of sediment drilled from the bottom of the Dead Sea on a drilling rig, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Scientists in Israel are drilling into the murky depths of the Dead Sea in hopes of unearthing scientific treasures found in 500,000 years worth of mud and sediment. The unique setting of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth at 422 meters (1,385 feet) below sea level, should present researchers with distinctly stratified sedimentation that may answer scientific questions ranging from geology to archaeology and could lead to new insight into climate change. AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner.
By: Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP).- Scientists in Israel are drilling into the murky depths of the Dead Sea in hopes of unearthing scientific treasures hidden in 500,000 years worth of mud and sediment.
The unique setting of the Dead Sea the lowest place on earth at 1,385 feet (422 meters) below sea level should present researchers with distinctly stratified sedimentation that may answer scientific questions in fields ranging from geology to archaeology and could lead to new insight into climate change.
Researchers say the core that will be pulled out from 1,640 feet (500 meters) below the seabed could open the door to years of research as every stratum could inspire a new hypothesis.
"It's like reading a book," said Ulrich Harms, a German scientist who heads the International Continental Drilling Program, a major funder of the project. "It's a perfect archive of droughts and floods, of changing climate over a long time span."
The project is the brainchild of two Israeli scientists who believed that drilling deep into the crust under the Dead Sea could expose information that other research on its banks did not reveal.
About 10 years ago, Zvi Ben-Avraham and Mordechai Stein appealed to the Germany-based drilling program, which organizes scientific drilling around the world. The program's approval of the Israeli scientists' request came only this year, after it was delayed in part because of the Israeli-Palestinian fighting of the first half of the decade.
In a sign of how the relationship between the two sides has thawed since, Palestinians as well as Jordanian researchers are participating in the project. Dead Sea research is one of the few spheres that sees Palestinians and Israelis working together.
"They want to cooperate with us because they see this as an important project and science knows no boundaries," said Michael Lazar, a professor of marine geosciences at the University of Haifa and the project's manager.
The Dead Sea is unique not only for the partnerships it has created and its low altitude. Unlike most other lakes, only one river, the Jordan, runs through it and none pour out of it, meaning the sedimentary buildup over millions of years has largely remained intact.
That will allow scientists to take a look at the mud and sediment core that will be drilled out of the earth, date it and determine what type of climate dominated during what period. The mud is marked by lighter and darker layers, the former a remnant from a dry period, the latter from flooding. This historical record could present new insight on climate change.
"We will be able to know if 368,494 years ago was a rainy year or not, or if there was an earthquake," said Ben-Avraham, who has been researching the Dead Sea for more than 30 years.
Where the sediment layers don't line up, there was likely an earthquake. Beyond new knowledge this may provide seismologists, archaeologists studying biblical temblors will be able to match up their findings with the timeline presented by the broken lines of the Dead Sea core. Anthropologists researching the migrations of early man many of whom are believed to have passed through the Dead Sea basin area could find new information to support theories.
The project may also help scientists learn about the fluctuating levels of the Dead Sea. The lake has shrunk significantly in the last few decades, mostly because of increased water extraction from the Jordan River by Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian sources.
The $2.5 million, 40-day project is being conducted by about 40 scientists and in cooperation with partners from six countries.
The drill, which travels around the world conducting scientific operations, can penetrate through 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). The scientists are only gathering 1,640 feet worth because they expect to hit a layer of thick salt at that level that will slow down the process.
Workers will drill in two daily shifts of 12 hours, removing the core bit by bit in cylinders that are 10 feet long (3 meters long) with a diameter of 5 inches (13 centimeters). Another parallel hole will be drilled nearby to account for any layers that may have been accidentally detached from the first hole. These will then be shipped to the University of Bremen in Germany, where they will be refrigerated and prepared for study.
Before the drilling, the scientists, many of whom have devoted their careers to studying the Dead Sea, felt great anticipation at what lies beneath.
"You don't have any other place in the world with such a high-resolution record," said Lazar, anxious from initial technical hiccups. "This is the lowest place on earth and we're going lower."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
November 24, 2010
After Much Controversy, Authenticity of Teotihuacan's "The Malinaltepec Mask" Verified
Versace's Return Painting Stolen from a London Home in 1979 to Original Owners
A Rare and Exceptional Example of the First Apple Computer Sells for $212,267 at Christie's
Rare First Edition of the Star Spangled Banner to Be Sold at Christie's in New York
Bonhams Make World Record Prices for Glass and Porcelain Chinese Snuff Bottles
John Lennon's I'm Only Sleeping Lyrics to Be Sold at Bonhams Memorabilia Auction
One Hundred Years after Mark Twain's Death, Centennial Sparks Wave of Nostalgia
Original Drawings by Some of the Greatest Illustrators of Our Time to Be Offered at Sotheby's
3rd Eye: New York University Artist Gets Camera Implanted in Head as Part of Project
Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work Opens at the National Gallery in London
Exhibition on Treatments and Techniques Used to Conserve Rare Works on Paper at the Getty
Israeli Scientists Drilling in Dead Sea to Unearth Treasures may Answer Scientific Questions
Ansel Adams and Cartier-Bresson Among Famous Names in New York Photography Auction
Austria Returns 7 Looted Works of Art to Their Rightful Owners or Heirs
Bonhams Appoint Deborah Allan Departmental Director of Impressionist & Modern Art
Freeman's Realizes $1.5 Million on Americana & Pennsylvania Auctions
Westminster Abbey, United Kingdom Royalty's Church of Choice for 1,000 Years
New Works by Grayson Perry to Go on Show in Manchester
Founder of Chicago's DuSable Museum Dies
Former Driver to Elderly Poet Guilty of Stealing Artworks by Andy Warhol and Francis Picabia
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Archaeologists find 5,000-year-old skeletons in an ancient village in northern India
2.- Exhibition at the Louvre museum offers rare glimpse of the ancient Thracian culture
3.- Most Britons ignorant over Battle of Waterloo: National Army Museum poll
4.- Sotheby's to offer the historic collection of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe
5.- Van Gogh and Rothko: Two masterpieces of modern art unveiled at Sotheby's London
6.- Recently discovered self-portrait headlines 'Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty' at MFA Boston
7.- Supermodel Gisele Bundchen, world's top-earning model, makes teary last catwalk turn
8.- Le Corbusier legacy threatened by revelations in new books that architect was 'fascist'
9.- Groundbreaking photographs of India's Sidi community go on show in the UK for the first time
10.- William and Kate: royal parents with a modern image
Son in NY Dead Sea Scrolls Case: There's No Crime
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|