Mysterious Appearance of Gafsa Beach

On July 2014, a mysterious lake suddenly appeared in the Gafsa region of southern Tunisia. The lake is estimated over a hectare in size and 10-18m deep. It is presumed that a small earthquake fractured a natural dam holding an artificial reservoir allowing the water to reach the surface. However, the aquifer has not been found – the theory relies more on the absence of other credible explanations than anything else. The lake was named Gafsa beach or "Lac de Gafsa" by local residents.

Mehdi Bilel was returning from a marriage in the north of the country when he spotted the lake in the desert canyon 25km from the city of Gafsa on the road from Om Larayes. Since it was discovered by shepherds more than three weeks ago, over 600 people have been swimming, diving and scuba diving in the water, according to Au News.

Gafsa Beach (Source: Facebook via

"Some say it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse," Lakhdar Souid, a Tunisian journalist, told France 24 television.

Authorities have offered no official explanation for the lake’s origins but local geologists believe seismic activity may have upset the water table and caused groundwater to rise to the surface. Gafsa's Office of Public Safety warned Tunisians that the water may be dangerous to swim in, as the region is rich in phosphate. This region is overflowing with large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue so there is a real risk that this water is contaminated and carcinogenic. Tunisia is the fifth largest exporter of the chemical in the world and the Gafsa is home to one of the largest phosphate mines.


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