Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Lac de Gafsa, A Mysterious Lake Appears Overnight

In the north of Tunisia “Mehdi Bilel” was returning home after attending a marriage, when he shocked spotted a large lake shining in the hot sun, in the middle of the scorching desert, around 25 kilometers from the city of Gafsa. He was stood on its shore in speechless silence. Though, there wasn’t any lake here few days ago. Initially he thought he was may be in vehement. But this was a real fact, which he wasn’t negated. Then he went for walking several hours on the road without a break, and the heat could play all sorts of tricks upon the brain. But Mehdi Bilel wasn’t imagining things, how the lake had really materialized out of nowhere. The lake covers a hectare in area and is 10 to 18 meters deep. Therefore, without any delay, this news of the mysterious lake spread like wildfire and massive mob of Tunisians flocked to what quickly became recognized as the “Lac de Gafsa” or Gafsa beach to swim and cool off in the region’s 40 degree C heat. This incident was happened on August 2014, as Tunisia was in the middle of a scorching drought, which made the lake’s unexpected appearance even more mysterious. However, the origin of the formation of the lake Lac de Gafsa is not clear. Therefore, the most likely explanation is that a minor earthquake had cracked the rock above the water table sending millions of cubic meters of water up to the surface.

The enigmatic lake has since become a major tourist attraction of this area. Though, swimming is dangerous here, as the lake water could be contaminated with phosphates. Because the southern Tunisian region is very rich in phosphate which is found in the region’s soil and rocks. Since its discovery in 1886, Gafsa has become the center of the country's mining industry. Moreover, phosphorous compounds are used to manufacture anything from fertilizers, pesticides, and detergents, to matches and chemical weapons, you may understand like this, that all the dangerous stuff. Further, phosphate happens to leave behind a radioactive residue, that if the lake is contaminated, the water is both radioactive and carcinogenic. Then, the first signal that something wasn’t quite with Lac de Gafsa appeared within a couple of days of its appearance. The water color changed from clear, crystalline blue to murky green due to a bloom of algae, which meant that the water was not being refilled and therefore could be teeming with bacteria and diseases. Therefore, almost two weeks after the lake appeared, the Office of Public Safety in Gafsa warned the natives that it was unsafe to swim in the lake, but few heeded the warning. Masses of people still come to lake to swim and stave off the desert heat.

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