The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Altitude of the Lowest Point on Earth

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Discovering the Wonders of Our World. London: Reader's Digest, 1993: 149. "In places, the lake is 1,300 ft. (400 m) or so deep and the lake's floor lies almost half a mile below sea level." −800 m
(projected)
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996. Mahwah, NJ: Funk & Wagnalls, 1995: 597. "Dead Sea, Israel-Jordan, −1312 ft. below sea level." −400 m
Pictorial Atlas of the World. Italy: Ottenheimer, 1993: 94. "−400 m" −400 m
New American Desk Encyclopedia. Neuchatel: Elsevier Trading, 1977: 344. "Much of it is more than 1,000 ft. deep, and with a surface 1,302 ft. below sea level it is the lowest point on earth." −397 m
Dead Sea. Columbia University Press, 1994 "At 1,292 ft. (394 m) below sea level, it is the lowest point on earth." −394 m

The lowest point on earth is located on the surface of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea came into being 3 million years ago and is an extension of the Great Rift Valley system that runs through eastern Africa. The Dead Sea is 50 miles long, extending from the Jordan River, and 11 miles wide.

Biblically named the "Salt Sea," the salt content of the Dead Sea is quite large. It makes up over 20% of this body of water, which is six times greater than any of the oceans. There are also high levels of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The great depth that this sea is located creates a very unique natural setting. For example, no life forms, except for bacteria, are able to live in such salty water and the humidity is 50%. Also, with the high average temperature of 50 °C (122 °F) the water flow into the Dead Sea from the Jordan River and other streams are insignificant water sources.

The lowest point on earth is located on the shore of the Dead Sea, on the Israel-Jordan border. The altitude of this point ranges from 394 meters (1,292 ft.) to 400 meters (1,312 ft.) below sea level. Time is the reason this value has changed. With the low replenishment rate, extreme heat, and high evaporation, the level of the Dead Sea is lowering at a rate of approximately 1 meter every 10 years.

There will never be an exact measurement for the depth of the shores of the Dead Sea. It will increase, below sea level, constantly, until the water level reaches zero. This situation would make the lowest point on earth the sea's floor bed, which is almost a half mile down, or 800 meters (2600 ft.) below sea level.

Sanjeev Menon -- 2000