Scale-free distribution of Dead Sea sinkholes
A sinkhole at Ein-Gedi Beach

Abstract

The works deals with the very interesting phenomenon of sinkholes along the Dead

Sea shoreline and uses data collected during 17 years of dangerous field work.  There are currently more than 5500 sinkholes along the Dead Sea in Israel; their size ranges from a few meters to tens of meters. These were formed due to dissolution of subsurface salt layers as a result of the replacement of hypersaline groundwater by fresh brackish groundwater. This process was associated with the sharp decline in the Dead Sea level (represents a fall of 34 m during the last 50 years), currently more than one meter per year, resulting in a lower water table that has allowed the intrusion of fresher brackish water. We studied, for the first time, the distribution of the sinkholes sizes and surprisingly found that it is scale-free with a power-law exponent close to 2, indicating that the sinkhole formation belongs to the wider family of scale free processes. This founding is new and very interesting in both the context of scale free research and sinkholes research. We constructed a stochastic cellular automata model to understand the observed scale-free behavior and the growth of the sinkhole area 

in time.   



Authors:  Hezi Yizhaq, Carmit  Cohen Shalom,  Eli Raz and Yosef Ashkenazy

Data Files