Raad, F., Ebner, R., Heida, H., Meijer, P., Lofi, J., Maillard, A., & Garcia-Castellanos, D. (2022). A song of volumes, surfaces and fluxes – The case study of the Central Mallorca Depression (Balearic Promontory) during the Messinian Salinity Crisis. Basin Research. https://doi.org/10.1111/bre.12702
The Central Mallorca Depression (CMD) located in the Balearic Promontory (Western Mediterranean) contains a well-preserved evaporitic sequence belonging to the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) salt giant, densely covered by high- and low-resolution seismic reflection data. It has been proposed recently that the MSC evaporitic sequence in the CMD could be a non-deformed analogue of the key MSC area represented by the Caltanissetta Basin in Sicily. This presumed similarity makes the CMD an interesting system to better understand the MSC events. Physics-based box models of the water mixing between sub-basins, built on conservation of mass of water and salt, help constrain the hydrological conditions under which evaporites formed during the MSC. Those models have been widely used in the literature of the MSC in the past two decades. They have been mostly applied to the Mediterranean Sea as a whole focusing on the Mediterranean–Atlantic connection, or focusing on the influence of the Sicily Sill connecting the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Sea. In this study, we apply a downscaled version of such modelling technique to the CMD. First, we quantify the present-day volumes of the MSC units. We then use a reconstructed pre-MSC paleo-bathymetry to model salinity changes as a function of flux exchanges between the CMD and the Mediterranean. We show that a persistent connection between the CMD and the Mediterranean brine near gypsum saturation can explain volume of Primary Lower Gypsum under a sea level similar to the present. For the halite, on the contrary, we show that the observed halite volume cannot be deposited from a connected CMD-Mediterranean scenario, suggesting a drawdown of at least 850 m (sill depth) is necessary. Comparison between the deep basin halite volume and that of the CMD shows that it is possible to obtain the observed halite volume in both basins from a disconnected Mediterranean basin undergoing drawdown, although determining the average salinity of the Western Mediterranean basin at the onset of drawdown requires further investigation.