What's so special about the Dead Sea?
The waters of the Dead Sea contain 21 life-essential minerals such as potassium, bromide and magnesium. Many of these minerals are found in no other sea or ocean.
The Dead Sea distinguishes itself from the earth's most bountiful sources by its lavish contents. In fact, this body of water contains 10 times more salts and minerals than the Mediterranean Sea, which is one of the richest, most fertile locations on the planet. These salts and minerals are recognized worldwide for their amazing, nourishing qualities.
Over time, our bodies become depleted from many life-essential minerals. This results in an acceleration of the aging process. Premature wrinkles, aches and pains, age spots and tiredness are a few of the resulting effects. Though, ironically, it is time itself which had enriched the Dead Sea with so many minerals and other essential elements, as well as its unique position of being the lowest inhabited location on earth (1,312 feet below sea level).
Since before the days of Cleopatra, people have traveled to the Dead Sea to soak up its minerals. Even Cleopatra herself was reportedly enamored with the Dead Sea's amazing properties and used its distinctive minerals for her legendary beauty treatments.
The salts found in the Dead Sea are mineral salts, just like any other ocean except these salts are extremely concentrated. The water in the Dead Sea is so concentrated that people don't really "swim" in it, they float! Because the Dead Sea is extremely concentrated with dissolved mineral salts, the water density is much greater than any other body of saltwater including the ocean. So instead of swimming in the Dead Sea, you just float on top of the water like a cork.
How did the Dead Sea form?
In this part of the world there is a rift formed where two crustal plates are spreading apart. The East Rift Valley runs through most of Africa, but it starts north of the Dead Sea and runs south along the eastern side of the continent. The Sea is located right along the Rift Valley where the Earth's crust is being stretched thin.
To get an idea of how this "crustal spreading" occurs, take a bar of taffy and try to pull it apart. You'll see where the candy starts to stretch it gets really thin just before it breaks. That's what is happening to the Earth's crust in the Rift Valley. Where the Earth's crust gets thin that part of the surface sinks lower. The Dead Sea is still sinking lower even today. Scientists estimate the Dead Sea sinks an average of 13 inches each year. On a geologic time-scale that's incredibly fast.
The Dead Sea is Unique
Approximately three million years ago, the Mediterranean Sea penetrated the East Rift Valley, emptying seawater into the region. This deposited enormous amounts of salt in the region. Over time, the early lagoon that had formed became separated from the nearby lakes as the Mediterranean Sea withdrew. Since then, the Dead Sea has been continually fed water from the Jordan River and other small streams that surround it.
The most unique aspect of all this is the evaporation that occurs. This is the only way water gets out of the Dead Sea. And boy does it evaporate! This part of the world gets plenty hot!
When the water evaporates, it leaves behind all the dissolved minerals in the Sea, just making it saltier. In fact, it's a combination of the action of (1) huge deposits of salts from the ancient Mediterranean ocean (2) continued evaporation and (3) mineral salts carried in the sea from the local rivers, the Dead Sea continues to get saltier.
Since the water does not escape and just traps the salts within its shores, evolution has not had a chance to produce any creatures that could adapt to such brutal conditions.
So many things to know about this truly unique and bountiful body of water on earth.