Cretaux, JF, Letolle, R, Calmant, S (2009). Investigations on Aral Sea Regressions from Mirabilite Deposits and Remote Sensing. AQUATIC GEOCHEMISTRY, 15(2-Jan), 277-291.
Remote sensing techniques including radar (Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1 and Envisat) and laser altimetry (Icesat), and moderate resolution spectro-radiometer (MODIS) images, are used to estimated current level and surface extent time variations of the Aral Sea. During the Holocene several phases of regression occurred, leading to desiccation of the Aral Sea. During the last 50 years, Aral Sea has drastically shrunk due to intense use of river's water for irrigation purposes. It is currently separated into four distinct water bodies, namely, the Small Aral in the North, the Tchebas Bay in the North West, and the South West and the South East basins. The Kulandy strait connected the SW and SE basins until very recent times. These basins are now almost separated and salinity becomes very high (140-180 g/l) in the Eastern part. Rubanov discovered past deposits of mirabilite in the years 1970-1980. We investigate the significance of these deposits in the light of current evolution of the four water bodies that constitute the heritage of Aral Sea contemporary desiccation. Using remote sensing techniques, we have attempted to calculate the water balance of south Aral Sea during the last 3 years. We conclude in strong probability that the Kulandy strait carries water most of the time from the Eastern Basin to the Western Basin. We have demonstrated that it should have been the same process in the past to explain the Mirabilite deposit, but unfortunately, due to recent artificial water monitoring of the Aral Sea (dam in the Berg's strait, new reservoirs in the Amu Darya's delta), it is impossible to make definitive conclusion from actual Aral Sea water balance.