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25 November 2010
Dead Sea drilling to reveal wealth of data

Scientists in Israel are about to realize a long held ambition to drill a core from the bed of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. Zvi Ben-Avraham and Mordechai Stein devised their plan around a decade ago, and applied to the German-based International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) for help. Approval was given only this year, having been delayed due in part to continued conflict in the region.
     The core, which will be sunk to a depth of 500 metres (1,640 feet) will be sent to Bremen, Germany, in frozen three metre sections. Scientists hope that it will reveal data pertinent to geology, archaeology, and climate studies, inspiring a range of future research and hypothesis testing. The sediments visible in the core, deposited over time on the sea bed, should reveal patterns of aridity and moisture through alternating lighter and darker layers, while sediment layers that fail to match up will indicate seismic activity. Ulrich Harms of the ICDP says "It's a perfect archive of droughts and floods, of changing climate over a long time span."
     Archaeologists may be able to use the new data to learn more about biblically attested earthquakes, and to study the migration and spread of early humans through the area. The US$2.5 million, 40 day project is bringing together 40 researchers from Israel, Palestine and other countries.

Edited from The Orlando Sentinel (22 November 2010)

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