The Holy Land is a region where earthquakes occur frequently. By one means or another, big earthquakes have been documented in the Holy Land for a period exceeding 4,000 years. Many are known from history and literature, especially the Bible. Holy Land earthquakes are also evidenced from archaeological excavations. No other region of the earth has such a long and well-documented chronology of big earthquakes.
Recently, geologists have investigated the 4,000-year chronology of earthquake disturbances within the uppermost 19 feet of laminated sediment of the Dead Sea. Hypersaline waters preserve seasonally laminated sediment because organisms cannot live or burrow in the bed of the lake. As a result, only a nearby earthquake (or very large distant earthquake) can homogenize the lake’s uppermost sediment layers, producing a “mixed layer” devoid of laminations.3 A sketch of a sediment core from the west side of the Dead Sea appears in Figure 1. The sketch shows the depth of the “mixed layers” within the laminated sediment sequence. Two deeper mixed layers in the Dead Sea are datable from historical, archaeological, and geological associations with faulting—the earthquakes of 31 B.C. (the Qumran earthquake) and 750 B.C. (Amos’ earthquake). Other earthquakes are represented in the Dead Sea sediment core with dates approximated by assuming a steady rate of sedimentation….
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