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Dead Sea Rift Valley, Israel and Jordan October 1984
Seen from an altitude of 190 nautical miles (350 kilometers) in this near-vertical photograph, the Dead Sea Rift Valley slices south-north through the Middle East. The surface of the Dead Sea, 1292 feet (394 meters) below sea level, is the lowest point on Earth and is a continuation of the East African Rift through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. Rift faulting connects the Dead Sea with the Jordan River Valley and through the Sea of Galilee; however, northward in Lebanon the rifting splays out into a series of north-northeast trending faults. East of the rift are two large ancient lava fields about which little is known. Close to the southwestern edge of the photograph, the Gaza Strip can be seen near the border between Egypt and Israel.

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STS079-810-048 Central Highland Region, Tel Aviv, Israel September 1996
Situated on the narrow, but fertile coastal plain, the largest city of Israel, Tel Aviv, is located midway between the center and bottom center of the image in this east-looking view. Tel Aviv is the major commercial, financial, communications, industrial, and cultural center in Israel. Construction, textiles, clothing, pharmaceuticals, electrical and electronic appliances, and printed materials are the main industries. The city is also a popular tourist resort with wide, attractive beaches. Just to the east of Tel Aviv are the Central Highlands, an area of hills and several small valleys. In the upper left and upper center of the image, a portion of the Jordan River Rift Valley and the Dead Sea are visible.


Haifa, Israel March 1992
The seaport of Haifa (population of approximately 290 000) is located at the south end of Haifa Bay in northern Israel. Except for a few airport runways, no infrastructure can be discerned at this scale. A narrow coastal plain abuts this segment of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias), the large body of water approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) inland from Haifa, is reported to be a freshwater lake, although some publications report saline characteristics. Most water recharge entering the Sea of Galilee comes from melting snow off the mountains at the northern end of the Jordan River. The topography is rugged and hilly with the exception of sizable cultivated plains (green and brown field patterns) west-southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

Haifa, Lake Tiberias, Israel September 1996
The third largest city in Israel, the coastal city of Haifa, situated midway between the center and bottom center of the image, is visible in this southeast-looking view. Haifa is the main port of Israel and is the country’s industrial center as well. Major industries include oil refineries, food processing, shipbuilding, chemicals, electrical equipment, steel, and textiles. In the upper left corner of the image, the pear-shaped freshwater Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) can be seen. Lake Tiberias is 14 miles (23 km) long and has a maximum width of 8 miles (13 km). The lake has a maximum depth of 150 feet (46 meters) and covers an area of 64 square miles (165 square km). Lake Tiberias lies 680 feet (207 meters) below sea level and its bed forms part of the Dead Sea Rift Valley. At one time in the geologic past, Lake Tiberias was part of a great inland sea that extended from the Hula marshes in Northern Israel to a point 40 miles (64 km) south of the Dead Sea. The lake is completely encircled by beach, and bordered by escarpments and plains. Tourism and fishing are the main industries around the lake.


The Negev Desert, Gaza Strip, Israel May 1997
The region of south and southwest Israel can be seen in this mostly east-looking view. The southern Central Hills, an area of low hills and many small valleys, is visible at the left center of the image. A portion of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is visible at the upper left of the image. In the upper right and right center of the image, the Negev Desert, an area of low hills, is discernible. Parts of the Negev Desert are under irrigation as can be seen on the border between Israel and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt just below the right center of the image. Minerals such as copper, phosphates, and natural gas are also commercially extracted from the Negev Desert. Just below the center of the image and along the Mediterranean Sea coast is the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip is a narrow area of desert land that is 26 miles (42 km) long and from 4 to 5 miles (6 to 8 km) wide. The strip is densely populated and impoverished with more than 99 percent of the population being Arab refugees from Israel. The modest economy of the Gaza Strip is based on agriculture, livestock, fishing, and some small industry.


The Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan September 1991
The Dead Sea, the lowest body of water in the world at 1296 feet (396 meters) below sea level, and the Great Rift Valley in which it lies are featured in this near-vertical photograph. The Dead Sea, 15 miles (24 kilometers) east-southeast of Jerusalem (grayish-blue smudge in the photograph), is 50 miles (80 kilometers) long, 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide, and covers more than 360 square miles (930 square kilometers). Averaging almost 1000 feet (300 meters) in depth, the small sea is supplied by waters from the Jordan River (north of the sea) and numerous smaller streams and springs. Although no outlet for the sea exists, the water balance is maintained by a high evaporation rate. Millions of years ago Earth movements produced the Great Rift Valley (the downslipping of land between parallel fault systems), thereby creating the Dead Sea, which sits in a basin within the rift system. This giant fracture in the Earth’s crust reaches from Syria in the north to Mozambique in southern Africa. The shifting continues today and is evidenced by occasional earthquakes throughout the region. The peninsula of El Lisan (The Tongue) divides the sea into two unequal basins—the southern basin being much smaller and shallower. The Dead Sea is second only to Djibouti’s Lake Assal as the world’s saltiest body of water. The sea level has fluctuated during the last century. From 1880 to 1935, it rose approximately 20 feet (6 meters); subsequently, the increased use of the Jordan River for irrigation caused the water level to fall. Visible are Amman, the capital of Jordan (gray), to the northeast and the runways of Queen Alia International Airport to the east of the sea.


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