Mystery Lake Surfaces in Parched Tunisia

Note to swimmers flocking there: It might be radioactive
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2014 2:21 PM CDT
Mystery Lake Surfaces in Parched Tunisia
Welcome to Gafsa Beach.   (Facebook)

For residents of Tunisia desperate to beat the heat, we've got some really good news and some really bad news. The good is that shepherds in a drought-stricken region near the city of Gafsa stumbled upon an amazing thing: a brand-new lake that surfaced in an otherwise barren territory, reports It's spectacular, with rocks perfect for diving and water up to 65 feet deep, which is why hundreds of people have been flocking daily to so-called "Gafsa Beach" since it was discovered three weeks ago. Oh, but the bad news: The water might kill you.

"This lake is located in an area rich in phosphate deposits, which leave residue that is sometimes strongly radioactive," warns a report in Tunisia Daily by Lakhdar Souid, as quoted in the Times of India. "So there is a real risk the water is contaminated and carcinogenic." It's also a little worrisome that it's gone from clear blue to hazy green, "meaning that the water is stagnant and conducive to diseases," says Souid. Last week, the government warned that the lake was unfit for swimming, reports France24, but it did not put an official ban into place as testing continues. No word yet on how the lake formed, but one theory is that some kind of seismic activity—perhaps related to the local phosphate mining industry—jolted the water table. (Click for the latest theory about those mystery craters in Siberia.)

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