Underwater Researchers from TU Freiberg Visit Egypt and Israel

Underwater Researchers
Underwater researchers from TU Bergakademie Freiberg travelled to Egypt recently to participate in the International Red Sea Symposium in Hurghada from May 11 to 12.

The conference was organized by the UNESCO UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology within the framework of the International Year of the Reef, 2018.

In April of this year, the staff of the Scientific Diving Center at TU Freiberg (under the direction of Dr. Thomas Pohl and Prof. Dr. Broder Merkel) embarked on a ten-day research mission to the Dead Sea. They investigated groundwater sources in the extremely saline water there in an attempt to find causes for the sharp drop in the sea's water level, which sinks by approx. one meter each year. The decline of the Dead Sea creates cavities in coastal areas that sometimes collapse, causing serious damage to buildings and roads. The Dead Sea has only one tributary, the River Jordan, from which water is taken to supply the population of the region. Over the past 30 years, this extraction has led to around 14 cubic kilometers of water being lost to the lake. The water level now lies at 432 meters below mean sea level.

Invited by the Geological Service of Israel, the researchers from Freiberg worked together with scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Halle-Leipzig and the Ben-Gurion University of Jerusalem. Their visit continued a series of underwater explorations they had carried out in 2012 and 2014. In order to detect in a timely manner where dangerous sink-holes might occur, the leaching of salt in the subsoil had to be investigated. To this end, the scientists took samples from submarine groundwater sources at depths of three to 20 meters below the surface. These are currently being investigated in German and Israeli laboratories.

The excursion was carried out under absolute drought conditions, with air temperatures of up to 45°C and water temperatures of up to 27°C. Since the sites of investigation were not always accessible by even off-road vehicles, the scientists often had to carry their equipment (weighing around 400 kilograms) through the rocky terrain to the shore. Due to the high salt content and, thus, the high degree of buoyancy of the Dead Sea, the divers needed up to 60 kilograms of additional weight on their bodies to be able to work under water at all.

For further information, please visit: http://tu-freiberg.de/sdc

Contact person: Dr.-Ing. Thomas Grab, Koordinator, Scientific Diving Center, Tel +49 3 (0) 3731 / 39-3004