GEO3BCN-UB Seminars

Seminars & talks
2022-09-20 12:00

 Aftermath of catastrophic flooding of a desiccated ocean basin

  • Udara Amarathunga
  •  20 september 2022 at 12:00 h CET
  • Online & in person at GEO3BCN-CSIC
  • Further information: 
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A mile-high marine cascade terminated the Messinian salinity crisis 5.33 Myr ago, due to partial collapse of the Gibraltar sill that had isolated a largely desiccated Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic waters may have refilled the basin within 2 years. Prevailing hypotheses suggest that normal marine conditions were established across the Mediterranean immediately after the catastrophic flooding. Here we use proxy data and fluid physics-based modelling to show that normal conditions were likely for the western Mediterranean, but that flooding caused a massive transfer of salt from the western to the eastern Mediterranean across the Sicily sill, which became a hyper-salinity-stratified basin. Hyper-stratification inhibited deep-water ventilation, causing anomalously long-lasting organic-rich (sapropel) sediment deposition. Model data agreement indicates that hyper-stratification breakdown by diapycnal diffusion required 26,000 years. An alternative hypothesis that Atlantic reconnection occurred after the Mediterranean had largely been refilled is inconsistent with our observations, as this would have led to hyper-stratification and sapropel formation in both basins. Our findings offer insight into the role of stratification in delaying the re-establishment of normal marine conditions following abrupt refilling of a previously desiccated ocean basin.


All Dates

  • 2022-09-20 12:00

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