First we have reindeer herders almost falling into mysterious craters that suddenly appear in Siberia. At about the same time, shepherds in southern Tunisia find a lake suddenly appearing in the middle of a desert. Was Jules Verne right about tunnels through the center of the earth?
Probably not, but I never pass up an opportunity to mention the great Jules Verne.
It’s summer in Tunisia so the appearance of any water is a welcome sight, even H2O that pops up overnight like a liquid crop circle. Soon after it was found about three weeks ago, swimmers dove into what at the time was crystal clear water. The lake was nicknamed Lac de Gafsa or Gafsa Beach because it’s 25km from the Tunisian city of Gafsa.
Lac de Gafsa is estimated to be 50 feet deep with a surface area of about 2.5 acres. Unfortunately, the turquoise blue water quickly turned algae green. Local health officials issued warnings that it could be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals or possibly even radioactive. That hasn’t stopped hot Tunisians looking for a cool dip.
So, what exactly is Lac de Gafsa? According to journalist Lakhdar Souid:
Some say that it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse.
Geologists say it's probably from a tremor that fractured a layer of rock holding an underground reservoir, allowing water to flow through the crack and fill the canyon where Gafsa Beach is now located. Gafsa is the center of Tunisia’s phosphorous mining industry so if there’s anything in the water, it’s phosphorous. Souid says that makes it a bad place to swim:
This region is overflowing with large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue so there is a real risk that the water is contaminated and carcinogenic. There's no security of any kind.
While the lake doesn't appear to be connected to those craters in Siberia, it does have its own Facebook page.