Dead Sea sinkholes – an ever-developing hazard
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Sinkhole development along the western shore of the Dead Sea became a major concern in 1990 with the appearance of a series of holes 2–15 m diameter and up to 7 m deep in the Newe Zohar area. One of these sinkholes, below the asphalt surface of the main road along the western shore of the Dead Sea, was opened by a passing bus. Repeated infilling and collapse of these holes indicated the extent of this ongoing process and the significance of this developing hazard. Since then sinkholes have developed in other areas including Qalia, Ein Samar, Ein Gedi and Mineral Beach.
Three main types of sinkholes have been recognized. Gravel holes occurring in alluvial fans, mud holes occurring in the intervening bays of clay deposits between fans and a combination of both types at the front of young alluvial fans where they overlap mud flats. Fossil, relict sinkholes have been observed in the channels of some old alluvial fans.
Sinkhole development is directly related to the regression of the Dead Sea and the corresponding lowering of the regional water table. Continuation of this process widens the neritic zone enveloping the sea and increases the sinkhole hazard of the region.
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