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Lake appears in middle of Tunisian desert
Posted on 25/11/2015

NatureTunisia

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Southwest Tunisia was in the middle of one of the hottest, driest summers it could remember. So how did a large lake come to appear in the middle of the desert, where once there had only been arid land?

A mysterious lake appeared in the middle of the desert, not far from Gafsa, a town in the southwest of Tunisia. Nicknamed 'Gafsa Beach' or the 'Gafsa Lake', the site has become a popular swimming spot for hundreds of people, but how exactly did it come to be there?

Gafsa Lake

Gafsa Lake
NDTV

Mehdi Bilel was the first to discover the mysterious lake, as he made his way home from a wedding in the North of Tunisia. He says that he was about two hours into his journey and thought it was a hallucination before realising that there was in fact a lake in front of his eyes.

The exact date that the lake formed is uncertain and reasons why it formed are unknown, though speculation amongst experts has been rife. Local geologists suspect it could have been seismic activity in the region that caused a phreatic table to rise to the surface. Another more simplistic theory is that the canyon has simply collected rain water.

Hundreds of Tunisians have already taken a dip, but recently the lake's waters have changed from sky blue to a dark green and bathing in the lake is now strongly discouraged. This is due to the fact that the lake was formed on an old phosphate site. It's thought that traces of the phosphate are still present and that they may have contaminated the water, potentially making it radioactive and carcinogenic.

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