Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea, The, a salt lake of Palestine, situate at the lower extremity of the Jordan valley, in lat. 31° 30' N. and long. 35° 30' E. The lake has borne at different times many names - the Salt Sea, the Sea of the Plain, Lake Asphaltites, and is called by an Arab name which signifies the Sea of Lot. One peculiarity of the Sea, as well as of the whole Jordan valley, is that they are below the level of the Mediterranean. There are many signs of volcanic action in the neighbourhood, such as the presence of lava, the casting up of lumps of asphalte, and the prevalence of earthquakes, and geologists consider the whole Jordan valley to be a crevice produced by volcanic agency at some very remote period of the earth's history. The Dead Sea is fed by the Jordan and other rivers, but has no visible outlet, and it is thought that it depends wholly upon evaporation for its diminution, a view which is supported by the fact of the water being extremely salt and containing 25 per cent. more salts of magnesia and soda than the ocean. Indeed, it has been described as a "huge basin of brine." The length is 46 miles by a width of from 5 to 9 miles, and the depth varies from 1,300 feet to from 3 to 12 feet in the south. The oval outline is broken by a promontory in the south-east. On the E. and W. are barren limestone cliffs with a height of 2,500 and 1,500 feet respectively, and on the S. is what is called the Ridge of Sodom, consisting of rock-salt, 7 miles long and 300 feet high. The clear blue water is very buoyant, owing to its high specific gravity. Fanciful stories have been told of the absence of life over and around the Dead Sea, but there seems little ground for them. The watercourses which pass through the limestone cliffs are bordered by vegetation. Both the N. and S. shores are occupied by level, swampy, and muddy flats.