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Gafsa Beach: Scientists baffled by lake's sudden appearance in middle of desert

Some people are calling Gafsa Beach a miracle, while others are calling it a curse. The sudden appearance of a lake in the middle of an area of desert in Tunisia is being considered a miracle by many locals. However, as explained by The Guardian on Aug. 1, its sudden appearance alarms some geologists who believe that the water may be radioactive.

Geologists warn that the water at Gafsa Beach may contain toxic substances for the dozens of people who go there to bathe. The stretch of water, dubbed the Lac de Gafsa, may be the result of a rupture in the rock above the local water table.

The lake was discovered by shepherds three weeks ago 25 kilometers from the city of Gafsa , and local authorities estimate the total volume of water in the lake is about one million cubic meters spread over an area of about one hectare (a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres).

The lake depth varies from 10 to 18 meters, according to the Russian news agency RT. Since the discovery of Gafsa Beach, hundreds of people have come to this sort of oasis.

Families will swim, youth jump into the water from the rocks and some even come equipped with diving equipment, according to France 24.

Although authorities have not offered any official explanation about the origins of the lake, local geologists believe the seismic activity could have altered the water table by pushing water to the surface.

Hatef Ouigi, of Gafsa's office of public safety, warned that the lake is dangerous and not fit for swimming in. "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," Ouigi said.

Scientists have taken samples and the results are expected to be announced in the coming days. "Depending on the results, we will take measures," he added.

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