Letter | Published:

A new 36Cl hydrological model and 36Cl systematics in the Jordan River/Dead Sea system

Nature volume 321, pages 511515 (29 May 1986) | Download Citation



The recent breakthrough in our ability to detect the radioactive isotope 36Cl (half-life T½ = 301,000 yr) at natural levels by accelerator mass spectrometry1 allows the processes of salination of water systems to be studied in a new way by distinguishing the chloride content originating in young rainwaters and their subsequent evaporation from that generated by the leaching of ancient rocks. Results for the Jordan River/Dead Sea system show that the amount of chloride leached from rocks ranges from 70% in source springs to >90% in water bodies downstream. Furthermore, the amount of water left after evaporation decreases from 50% in the source springs to 20% in the intermediate Lake Kinneret. In the terminal Dead Sea, 99% of the stable chloride originates from ancient rocks and evaporite formations while 80% of its 36Cl content is of meteoric origin. Using 36Cl measurements, we estimate the accumulation time of the Dead Sea salt to be 19,000–25,000 yr.

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  1. Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel 91904

    • M. Paul
    • , D. Fink
    •  & O. Meirav
  2. Isotope Department, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel 76100

    • A. Kaufman
    •  & M. Magaritz
  3. Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60439, USA

    • W. Henning
    •  & W. Kutschera
  4. Nuclear Physics Department, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel 76100

    • R. Kaim


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