Although the Mediterranean Sea is back to what it once was, there are still many good examples of desiccation in the world today. Here we will look at three major cases present in modern-day ecosystems:
Israel is host to the deepest hypersaline lake in the world: the Dead Sea. With a salt content of approximately 30%, it is over 8.5 times saltier than the ocean. Like the Mediterranean Basin once was, the Dead Sea is endorheic. Salt builds up along its shores, which are collectively the lowest dry land points on the Earth. The mud of the Dead Sea has been said to have healing powers and some cosmetic uses.
This photograph, taken by a University of Maryland student on a trip to Israel, shows people lounging out on the lake's surface.
The Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the World; the first is the crater lake Asal in Djibouti. It has recently been receeding and the Israeli government is working towards fixing this issue with canals.
Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake is found Northwest corner of the state of Utah, as one can see from the following image taken from the Britannica Student Encyclopedia:
Unsurprisingly, the Great Salt Lake is also endorheic. The lake has sometimes been nicknamed "America's Dead Sea" because of its similarites with the Dead Sea in Israel. Great Salt Lake has two arms, one in the North and one in the South. The northern arm is twice as salty as the southern arm, and people can float easily year-round!
The lake itself is a remnant of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which covered a good part of the region 20,000 years ago. Because the Great Salt Lake is only a remnant of this gigantic lake, it probably started out fairly salty and has been getting saltier as more water evaporates.
This satellite photo was taken in 2003 during a period of drought.
Sabkha is arabic for "salt flat" which is a rough definition of what they are. The American Heritage Science Dictionary (copyright 2005) defines them as flat areas in between a desert and an ocean, which have a crusted surface of evaporite deposits, windblown sediments, and deposits from tides.
Please click on the photo for a larger image and more information.
It is nearly impossible for plants to grow in sabhkas regions, as groundwater is siphoned up to the surface where precipitates of salts such as calcium carbonate, gypsum, and halite form.