New evidence of the Mediterranean flood millions of years ago

New evidence of the Mediterranean flood millions of years ago

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Under the waters ofalboran sea, and in the shadow of an underwater volcanic building, is a body ofsedimentsthat would have accumulated over agreat Mediterranean flood occurred 5.3 million years ago that filled the basin of a sea partially dried.

These sediments are candidates to join the list of new evidence found in recent years of the so-called mega-flood of the Zancliense, according to an article published in the magazineEarth-Sciences Reviews.

The work reviews the recent findings published so far that support the hypothesis of amega-flood what put an end to the Messinian Salinity Crisis, an event that occurred about 6 million years ago during which the Mediterranean Sea was isolated from the Atlantic Ocean and became agigantic saline.

“The sedimentary deposits that we have identified are compatible with a large flood through theStrait of Gibraltar. It is an elongated sedimentary body that accumulated downwind of the flood thanks to the protection exercised by the volcanic building against the force of the flow of water that, coming from the Atlantic Ocean, entered the Mediterranean basin, "he explains.Daniel Garcia-Castellanos, researcher at the Jaume Almera Institute of Earth Sciences of the CSIC (ICTJA-CSIC) and first author of the article.

Sediment accumulation in the Mediterranean

According to scientists, this accumulation of sediment has a maximum thickness of 163 meters, extends for about 35 km and is about 7 km wide.

The identification of this set of materials has been possible thanks to the images obtained through the reflection of seismic waves at the bottom of the Alboran Sea.

In them, the authors detected a series of discontinuous, chaotic stratified reflectors located between the Miocene and Pliocene sedimentary layers.

Furthermore, these sediments are arranged in parallel to an erosive channel identified in 2009 at the bottom of the Alboran Sea.

This canal, some 390 km long, stretched from thegulf of Cadiz to the Algeria basin, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar.

The channel would have been excavated by the massive entry of water from the Atlantic Ocean once the connection with the Mediterranean Sea was reestablished through the Strait of Gibraltar about 5 million years ago.

Upon entering the Alboran basin, the canal was divided in two to save the topographic features that it encountered. One of these obstacles would have been this volcano around which the sediments identified now accumulated.

Mediterranean flood hypothesis

Thesesedimentslocated in the Alboran Sea are added to the rest of the evidence found and published in recent years that supports the hypothesis that there was aMediterranean flood of great proportions.

The Noto underwater canyon, located in the huge submarine escarpment of Malta, and a body of sediment about 800 meters thick located to the east of the canyon are two other proofs in favor of the flood hypothesis.

Both evidences were the object of study of an article published inScientific Reportsin 2018.

Despite all the evidence presented in this work, García-Castellanos is cautious. “Ten years after publishing the first observations that pointed to the Zancliense flood, we continue to find evidence that supports it, butthey are not conclusive. Almost everything discussed in this new article may have other possible interpretations and before convincing the scientific community it will be necessary for outside studies to reconsider the hypothesis from different angles ”.

Original report:

Garcia-Castellanos, D., Micallef, A., Estrada, F., Camerlenghi, A., Ercilla, G., Periáñez, R., & Abril, J. M. (2020). «The Zanclean megaflood of the Mediterranean - Searching for independent evidence« Earth-Science Reviews, 201, 103061.

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