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Weird Science: Salty Lakes

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
Table of Contents

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 13:11

SF. Fig. 2.7. Catching up on the news in the Dead Sea. Try doing this in the ocean or a freshwater lake! 

Image courtesy of Christina Roeschel and Valerie Blaisdell Presdee

<p><strong>SF. Fig. 2.7.&nbsp;</strong>Catching up on the news in the Dead Sea. Try doing this in the ocean or a freshwater lake!&nbsp;</p>

One of the saltiest lakes in the world, the Dead Sea, has a salinity of 280 parts per thousand (ppt), about eight times saltier than average seawater (35 ppt)! The Dead Sea is located between Jordan and Israel. This area gets very little rain and is very hot. When water evaporates due to the heat, salts are left behind.


There is a limit to how much salt can dissolve in water. The Dead Sea is so salty that salt precipitates out of the water and piles up at the bottom of the lake. White crystallized salt covers everything along the shores of the lake. The lake is too salty for most organisms; only specially adapted bacteria and fungi have been found living in the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is so dense that it is hard to swim in because people are very buoyant. Most people who swim on their backs in the Dead Sea look like they are reclining on underwater chairs, with their feet and heads sticking far out of the water (SF Fig. 2.7).

Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.