Paratethys pacing of the Messinian Salinity Crisis: Low salinity waters contributing to gypsum precipitation?

Arjen Grothe, Federico Andreetto, Gert Jan Reichart, Mariette Wolthers, Christiaan G.C. Van Baak, Iuliana Vasiliev, Marius Stoica, Francesca Sangiorgi, Jack J. Middelburg, Gareth R. Davies, Wout Krijgsman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

During the so-called Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC: 5.97-5.33 Myr ago), reduced exchange with the Atlantic Ocean caused the Mediterranean to develop into a “saline giant” wherein ∼1 million km3 of evaporites (gypsum and halite) were deposited. Despite decades of research it is still poorly understood exactly how and where in the water column these evaporites formed. Gypsum formation commonly requires enhanced dry conditions (evaporation exceeding precipitation), but recent studies also suggested major freshwater inputs into the Mediterranean during MSC-gypsum formation. Here we use strontium isotope ratios of ostracods to show that low-saline water from the Paratethys Seas actually contributed to the precipitation of Mediterranean evaporites. This apparent paradox urges for an alternative mechanism underlying gypsum precipitation. We propose that Paratethys inflow would enhance stratification in the Mediterranean and result in a low-salinity surface-water layer with high Ca/Cl and SO4/Cl ratios. We show that evaporation of this surface water can become saturated in gypsum at a salinity of ∼40, in line with salinities reported from fluid inclusions in MSC evaporites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116029
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume532
Early online date20 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2020

Funding

We thank R. Smeets, M. Klaver, L. Kootker, M. van der Ven for assistance in the strontium laboratory at the VU, Amsterdam. Further we thank L. de Nooijer, W. Boer and H. de Waard for assistance with the LA-ICPMS measurements at the NIOZ and the UU. H. Brinkhuis is thanked for commenting on early versions of this manuscript. We greatly acknowledge the constructive comments of Itay Halevi (journal editor), Vanni Aloisi and an anonymous reviewer that significantly improved the manuscript. This work was financially supported by the Netherlands Centre for Earth System Science (GJR and JJM) and the Netherlands Geosciences Foundation (ALW) with support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) through the VICI grant of WK (grant No. 865.10.011 ). The research work of MW is part of the Industrial Partnership Programme i32 Computational Sciences for Energy Research that is carried out under an agreement between Shell and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and MW has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 819588 ).

FundersFunder number
ALW
European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
Netherlands Geosciences Foundation
Shell and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
VICI
Shell
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
European Research Council
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek865.10.011
Horizon 2020819588
Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee
Netherlands Earth System Science Centre
i32 Computational Sciences for Energy

    Keywords

    • evaporites
    • gypsum
    • Mediterranean
    • Miocene
    • salinity
    • strontium

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