Daily Israel Report

Scientists Drill 1,200 Meters Down Under Dead Sea

Scientists are drilling a 1,200-meter bore hole under the northern Dead Sea in a search for the region's geological, climatic and cultural past.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 11/18/2010, 11:57 AM / Last Update: 11/18/2010, 12:45 PM

Hana Levi Julian

Scientists are drilling a bore hole under the Dead Sea, penetrating 1,200 meters deep into the surface of the lowest place on earth to examine the area’s geological history over the past half a million years.

The project, sponsored by the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP), involves extracting a “layer-cake” of soil using a special rig in the northern section of the Dead Sea. ICDP has also conducted similar probes deep into the Earth’s crust elsewhere around the globe.

A team that includes scientists from Tel Aviv University, the Israel Geological Survey and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities will examine the sample with high-resolution scanning equipment.

Both the Israeli and Jordanian governments are cooperating in the project, as well as the Palestinian Authority.

“We believe that the results of this project will have vast implications in the fields of science and environment and will shed light on new natural resources,” Professor Tzvi Ben-Avraham of TAU, and Motti Stein of the Israel Geological Survey, said Wednesday in a joint statement to the media.

A scientist from the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities explained that the sediments to be examined will show the environmental conditions that existed in the area during its geological past.

“In addition, a historic hydro-geological-environmental study of the Dead Sea will help unravel the mystery of human cultural evolution in this area,” Ben-Avraham and Stein added. Evidence of a severe weather pattern, or major earthquake, for example, could also indicate human migration in or out of the region, they explained.