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Rise and fall of the Paratethys Sea during the Messinian Salinity Crisis

Rise and fall of the Paratethys Sea during the Messinian Salinity Crisis

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Earth <strong>and</strong> Planetary Science Letters 290 (2010) 183–191Contents lists available at ScienceDirectEarth <strong>and</strong> Planetary Science Lettersjournal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/epsl<strong>Rise</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>fall</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> <strong>Sea</strong> <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong>W. Krijgsman a, ⁎, M. Stoica b , I. Vasiliev a , V.V. Popov ca Paleomagnetic Laboratory ‘Fort Ho<strong>of</strong>ddijk’, Utrecht University, Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD, Utrecht, The Ne<strong>the</strong>rl<strong>and</strong>sb Department <strong>of</strong> Palaeontology, Faculty <strong>of</strong> Geology <strong>and</strong> Geophysics, University <strong>of</strong> Bucharest, Bălcescu Bd. 1, 010041, Romaniac VNIGRI, All-Russia Petroleum Research Exploration Institute, St. Petersburg, RussiaarticleinfoabstractArticle history:Received 9 July 2009Received in revised form 16 November 2009Accepted 8 December 2009Available online 3 January 2010Editor: P. DeMenocalKeywords:<strong>Paratethys</strong>Mediterranean<strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong>magnetostratigraphyfloodingsea level changeExtremely thick evaporite units were deposited <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong> so-called <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong> (MSC: 5.96–5.33 Ma) in a deep Mediterranean basin that was progressively disconnected from <strong>the</strong> Atlantic Ocean. A crucial,but still poorly understood component in <strong>Messinian</strong> evaporite models is <strong>the</strong> connectivity between Mediterranean<strong>and</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong>, i.e. <strong>the</strong> former Black <strong>Sea</strong> domain. Inadequate stratigraphic correlations <strong>and</strong> insufficient agecontrol for <strong>Paratethys</strong> sediments have so far hampered a thorough underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> hydrological fluxes <strong>and</strong>paleoenvironmental changes. Here, we present a new chronology for <strong>the</strong> Eastern <strong>Paratethys</strong> by integratingbiostratigraphic <strong>and</strong> paleomagnetic data from Mio–Pliocene sedimentary successions <strong>of</strong> Romania <strong>and</strong> Russia. Weshow that a major flooding event from <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean surged <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> basins at <strong>the</strong> Maeotian–Pontianboundary, 6.04 million years ago. This indicates that sea level in both Mediterranean <strong>and</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> was high at<strong>the</strong> beginning <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> MSC. We argue in favor <strong>of</strong> changes in <strong>Paratethys</strong>–Mediterranean connectivity to initiate <strong>the</strong>MSC in combination with elusive tectonic processes in <strong>the</strong> Gibraltar arc. A subsequent <strong>fall</strong> <strong>of</strong> Paratethyan waterlevel closely coincides to <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean isolation-event, corresponding in age to <strong>the</strong> glacial cycles TG12–14(5.60–5.50 Myr). In <strong>the</strong> latest <strong>Messinian</strong>, a major climate change towards more humid conditions produced apositive hydrological balance <strong>and</strong> likely a transgression in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong>, although our stratigraphic resolutioncannot exclude a possible relation to <strong>the</strong> Pliocene flooding <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean here.© 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.1. IntroductionMajor sea level fluctuations, causing dramatic paleoenvironmentalchanges <strong>and</strong> related mass-extinctions, form an intricate part <strong>of</strong> Earthhistory (Hallam <strong>and</strong> Wignall, 1997). Renowned examples are <strong>the</strong>biblical flood <strong>of</strong> Noah <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong> (MSC) <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>Mediterranean. Geological investigations indicated that a great delugesurged <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> basin roughly 8000 years ago, rapidly raising <strong>the</strong>lake level by some 100 m (Ryan et al., 1997, 2003) so that civilizations<strong>and</strong> populations inhabiting <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> shores may have suddenlydrowned (Ryan <strong>and</strong> Pitman, 1998). The sudden influx hypo<strong>the</strong>sis ishighly debated between geologists <strong>and</strong> archeologists (Aksu et al., 2002),but may also have occurred in late <strong>Messinian</strong> times (Hsü <strong>and</strong> Giovanoli,1979) when <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> domain was part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Eastern <strong>Paratethys</strong>(Fig. 1). During <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> (7.24–5.33 Ma), <strong>the</strong> Mediterraneanbecame progressively isolated from <strong>the</strong> Atlantic Ocean, triggeringwidespread precipitation <strong>of</strong> gypsum (5.96–5.6 Ma), massive saltdeposition (5.6–5.5 Ma), <strong>and</strong> a dramatic sea level lowering followedby brackish water environments <strong>of</strong> “Lago-Mare” (Lake <strong>Sea</strong>) facies (e.g.Hilgen et al., 2007; Krijgsman <strong>and</strong> Meijer, 2008; Roveri et al., 2008). Acatastrophic re-flooding from <strong>the</strong> Atlantic at <strong>the</strong> beginning <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +31 30 2531672.E-mail address: krijgsma@geo.uu.nl (W. Krijgsman).Pliocene (5.33 Ma) abruptly ended <strong>the</strong> salinity crisis by re-establishingopen marine conditions in <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean (Hsü et al., 1973).The hydrological flux from <strong>Paratethys</strong> to Mediterranean is a crucialcomponent in quantitative studies on paleocirculation patterns <strong>and</strong>precipitation models <strong>of</strong> evaporites (Meijer <strong>and</strong> Krijgsman, 2005;Flecker <strong>and</strong> Ellam, 2006), but connectivity between <strong>the</strong> two basins iscontroversial (Çagatay et al., 2006). Overspilling <strong>of</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> watersinto <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean has been argued to explain <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong>brackish water fauna in <strong>the</strong> Lago-Mare sediments (Cita et al., 1978),but a lowering <strong>of</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> levels <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> event is alsosuggested (Hsü <strong>and</strong> Giovanoli, 1979). Seismic pr<strong>of</strong>iles <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong>basin show evidence <strong>of</strong> deep canyon cutting, but <strong>the</strong> exactstratigraphic position differs; at <strong>the</strong> base <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Pontian Stage (Dinuet al., 2005) or intra-Pontian (Gillet et al., 2007). Sequencestratigraphic interpretations on a seismic transect from <strong>the</strong> westernDacian Basin also reveal significant sea level changes within <strong>the</strong>Pontian Stage (Leever et al., 2009). Seismic <strong>and</strong> borehole data from<strong>the</strong> Pannonian Basin show unconformities as well, but <strong>the</strong>se areinterpreted to have a regional tectonic origin <strong>and</strong> no relation to<strong>Messinian</strong> drawdown (Magyar <strong>and</strong> Sztanó, 2008). A concurrent baselevel drop has been proposed for <strong>the</strong> Caspian <strong>Sea</strong> (Reynolds et al.,1998; Popov et al., 2006), although numerical ages are poorly defined.<strong>Paratethys</strong> time scales comprise regional stages (e.g. Maeotian–Pontian–Dacian or Kimmerian within <strong>the</strong> Mio–Pliocene interval) <strong>and</strong>substages (e.g. Odessian–Portaferrian–Bosphorian within <strong>the</strong> Pontian)0012-821X/$ – see front matter © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2009.12.020


186 W. Krijgsman et al. / Earth <strong>and</strong> Planetary Science Letters 290 (2010) 183–191Fig. 3. Ostracod distribution <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Râmnicu Sărat section in <strong>the</strong> east Carpathian foredeep <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin. The magnetostratigraphic pattern is after Vasiliev et al. (2004) <strong>and</strong> correlatesexcellently to <strong>the</strong> GTS. It allows high-resolution dating <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ostracod assemblages <strong>and</strong> related stages <strong>and</strong> substages. The resulting new ages <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> (sub)stage boundaries are indicated.sediments indicating deposition in shallow water, probably on <strong>the</strong>lower shore face (Panaiotu et al., 2007). The Portaferrian thusrepresents a regressive event where <strong>the</strong> bathymetry <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> DacianBasin decreased. In marginal settings, <strong>the</strong> rich Odessian ostracod faunaindicative <strong>of</strong> basinal conditions is replaced by littoral, fluvial <strong>and</strong>lacustrine Portaferrian species: Amplocypris dorsobrevis, C. pannonica,


W. Krijgsman et al. / Earth <strong>and</strong> Planetary Science Letters 290 (2010) 183–191187Fig. 4. Detailed integrated stratigraphic data <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Maeotian/Pontian interval. Pontian–Kimmerian are regional stages <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> Basin. Magnetostratigraphic data from Râmnicu Săratare after Vasiliev et al. (2004), from Zheleznyi Rog <strong>of</strong> this paper. Red circles represent reliable directions from <strong>the</strong>rmal demagnetization, whereby small circles denote greigite, large circlesmagnetite. The blue diamonds indicate directions from alternating field demagnetization .The Maeotian–Pontian boundary interval is marked by a short influx <strong>of</strong> marine calcareous benthicforaminifera (A–C) Porosononian ex. gr. subgranosus (Egger), (D) Ammonia ex. gr. beccarii (Linné), agglutinated foraminifera, (E,H) Ammotium sp. <strong>and</strong> planktonic foraminifera comprisingStreptochilus sp. (I–J).C. sp., Tyrrhenocy<strong>the</strong>re ex. gr. motasi, C<strong>and</strong>oniella sp., <strong>and</strong>Zonocyprismembranae (Fig. 3).The Portaferrian low-st<strong>and</strong> is determined magnetostratigraphically in<strong>the</strong> middle part <strong>of</strong> chron C3r, <strong>and</strong> precize ages can thus not be obtainedhere. Assuming constant sedimentation rates for <strong>the</strong> Râmnicu Săratsection results in interpolated ages <strong>of</strong> ∼5.8 <strong>and</strong> ∼5.5 Ma for <strong>the</strong> lower <strong>and</strong>upper Portaferrian boundary, respectively (Fig. 3). Seismic data from <strong>the</strong>western part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin confirm a general regressive middlePontian low-st<strong>and</strong> (Leever et al., 2009), while an erosional unconformity<strong>of</strong> regional significance has been observed between Maeotian <strong>and</strong> upperPontian sediments at marginal regions (Stoica et al., 2007).The section at <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> margin shows a conspicuous change at<strong>the</strong> top <strong>of</strong> this interval by deep lacustrine brackish marls with Pontianfauna indicative <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> photic zone (b100 m deep) abruptly changingto condensed coastal sequences <strong>of</strong> reddish s<strong>and</strong>s, with some minorsedimentary hiatuses, attributed to <strong>the</strong> base <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Kimmerian (Fig. 5).This red sequence comprises oolites/pisolites plus nodular marls thatsuggest high-energetic coastal environments (Fig. 5E). It fur<strong>the</strong>rmorecontains molluscs that are characteristic <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Portaferrian (Fig. 5F–H)<strong>and</strong> minerals indicative <strong>of</strong> evaporitic conditions (selenite, gypsum <strong>and</strong>jarosite), which probably formed after deposition (Fig. 5I–L). Thisindicates that <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> experienced a sea level drop <strong>of</strong> about 50–100 m at <strong>the</strong> base <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Kimmerian (middle Portaferrian), which iscoeval to <strong>the</strong> intra-Pontian unconformities observed in seismic pr<strong>of</strong>iles<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Romanian Black <strong>Sea</strong> margin (Gillet et al., 2007).The Caspian <strong>Sea</strong> may have become isolated <strong>during</strong> this period, assuggested by <strong>the</strong> expansion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> deltaic systems <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ‘ProductiveSeries’, which are Kimmerian in age. This is <strong>the</strong> main hydrocarbonreservoir unit <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> South Caspian Basin, thought to represent <strong>the</strong>low-st<strong>and</strong> wedge <strong>of</strong> a dramatic sea level <strong>fall</strong> (Hinds et al., 2004). Atentative link has been made with <strong>the</strong> late <strong>Messinian</strong> eustatic sea level<strong>fall</strong> (Reynolds et al., 1998), but o<strong>the</strong>r studies have suggested a relationto large scale plate-tectonic processes (Allen et al., 2002). The base <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> Productive Series is radiometrically dated at ∼5.5 Ma <strong>and</strong> isinterpreted as <strong>the</strong> sudden southward expansion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Miocene Volgadelta resulting from a major regression (Dumont, 1998).Consequently, we conclude that all regions in <strong>the</strong> Eastern <strong>Paratethys</strong>show evidence for a marked sea level lowering <strong>of</strong> at least 50 m <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong><strong>Messinian</strong> (5.6–5.5 Myr) time interval, corresponding to <strong>the</strong> Portaferrian<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> lowermost Kimmerian <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> <strong>and</strong>Caspian basins.6. <strong>Paratethys</strong> transgression <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong> BosphorianThe upper Pontian (Bosphorian) corresponds to a second transgressiveevent in <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin, showing a major faunal change in <strong>the</strong>


188 W. Krijgsman et al. / Earth <strong>and</strong> Planetary Science Letters 290 (2010) 183–191Fig. 5. A) The reddish interval <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Zheleznyi Rog section. Portaferrian molluscs found in <strong>the</strong> marl interval below <strong>the</strong> red unit; B) Valenciennius sp.,C)Paradacna abichi,D)Dreissenarostriformis. Characteristic mollusc species <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> most relevant evaporitic minerals found in <strong>the</strong> reddish interval, marking <strong>the</strong> beginning <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Kimmerian: E) oolithic/pisolithics<strong>and</strong>stone, F) Caladacna steindachneri, G)D. rostriformis, H)Pteradacna edentula, I) jarosite, J) prismatic gypsum crystals, K) jarosite, <strong>and</strong> L) radial gypsum. The corresponding levelsare indicated right <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> schematic lithological column.ostracod assemblages (Fig. 3) <strong>and</strong> a lithological change to more basinalsequences (Jipa, 1997). The Portaferrian–Bosphorian transition ismarked by a second bloom <strong>of</strong> ostracod fauna, <strong>and</strong> most Pontian speciesare well represented. Some species pass through <strong>the</strong> limit with lowerDacian (Getian substage).Interpolation assuming constant sedimentation rates, suggeststhat this upper Pontian transgression started at an age <strong>of</strong> 5.5±0.1 Ma(Table 1). Detailed micropalaeontological studies have not revealed<strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong> marine foraminifera here. In <strong>the</strong> western Dacian Basin,seismic pr<strong>of</strong>iles also show a transgressive system tract at <strong>the</strong> base <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> Bosphorian (Leever et al., 2009). In <strong>the</strong> Topolog region <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> southCarpathian foredeep, <strong>the</strong> Bosphorian is found transgressive onMaeotian deposits while <strong>the</strong> upper Maeotian <strong>and</strong> lower-middlePontian are missing (Stoica et al., 2007). In addition, <strong>the</strong> bottom sets<strong>of</strong> a ‘Gilbert fan delta’ are correlated to this sea level rise (Clauzonet al., 2005), although stratigraphic data from Romanian geologistsindicate that <strong>the</strong>se fan deposits are <strong>of</strong> pre-Maeotian age (Savu <strong>and</strong>Ghenea, 1967; Nastaseanu <strong>and</strong> Bercia, 1968).In <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> Basin, <strong>the</strong> Miocene–Pliocene boundary is commonlyplaced at <strong>the</strong> Pontian/Kimmerian boundary. This is in slight disagreementwith our stratigraphic results, which shows that <strong>the</strong> red level <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> lowermost Kimmerian corresponds to <strong>the</strong> Portaferrian <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> DacianTable 1New magnetostratigraphic ages for <strong>the</strong> (sub)stage boundaries in <strong>the</strong> Dacian <strong>and</strong> Black<strong>Sea</strong> basins <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Eastern <strong>Paratethys</strong>.Dacian BasinBoundaryAge(Ma)Black <strong>Sea</strong> BasinBoundaryAge(Ma)Pontian/Dacian 4.70 ±0.05 × ×Portaferrian/Bosphorian 5.5 ±0.1 Portaferrian/Kimmerian 5.6±0.1Odessian/Portaferrian 5.8 ±0.1 Novorossian/Portaferrian 5.8±0.1Maeotian/Pontian 6.04 ±0.01 Maeotian/Pontian 6.04±0.01Basin <strong>and</strong> thus to <strong>the</strong> latest Miocene (Fig. 4). Faunal elements <strong>of</strong>Kimmerian marls, overlying <strong>the</strong> reddish interval at Zheleznyi Rog, aresimilar to <strong>the</strong> Bosphorian <strong>and</strong> can be largely attributed to <strong>the</strong> Pliocene.The “Productive Series” <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Caspian Basin are also biostratigraphicallydated as Kimmerian in terms <strong>of</strong> Eastern Paratethyan chronostratigraphy(Nevesskaya et al., 2002). The numerical age is still a matter <strong>of</strong> debate,because <strong>of</strong> conflicting paleomagnetic evidence on which calibration to<strong>the</strong> global record is based, <strong>and</strong> because biostratigraphic control forinterregional correlation is hindered by <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong> mostly localfaunas <strong>and</strong> by massive reworking (Jones <strong>and</strong> Simmons, 1996).Our integrated stratigraphic results from <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin showthat <strong>the</strong> Pontian/Dacian boundary is younger than <strong>the</strong> Sidufjall normalchron (C3n.3n) <strong>and</strong> is magnetostratigraphically dated at ∼4.7 Ma(Fig. 3). This is significantly younger than presumed in o<strong>the</strong>r<strong>Paratethys</strong> time scales, where <strong>the</strong> Pontian–Dacian stage boundary istentatively positioned at, or close to, <strong>the</strong> Miocene–Pliocene boundary(5.33 Ma) (Steininger et al., 1996; Clauzon et al., 2005; Snel et al.,2006). It is clear that different definitions have been used for <strong>the</strong>upper Pontian boundary in Romanian <strong>and</strong> Russian literature (Fig. 6;Table 1), which is especially problematic when working on <strong>the</strong> Mio–Pliocene sedimentary successions <strong>and</strong> seismic sequences <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Black<strong>Sea</strong> domain. A formal re-definition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> regional stagesaccording to international stratigraphic codes is urgently required.7. Causes <strong>and</strong> consequences for <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong>Our new chronological framework for <strong>the</strong> Eastern <strong>Paratethys</strong>allows high-resolution correlations with <strong>the</strong> oxygen isotope curves(Hodell et al., 2001; Hilgen et al., 2007) <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> successions<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean (Fig. 6). These are subdivided into threeastronomically dated evaporite phases; M1) marine “Lower Gypsum”(5.96–5.6 Ma), M2) halite <strong>and</strong> resedimented evaporites (5.6–5.5 Ma),M3) Lago-Mare sediments with gypsum (5.5–5.3 Ma) (Krijgsmanet al., 1999; Hilgen et al., 2007; Roveri et al., 2008).


W. Krijgsman et al. / Earth <strong>and</strong> Planetary Science Letters 290 (2010) 183–191189Fig. 6. A new chronology for <strong>the</strong> different local <strong>and</strong> regional stages <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> allows detailed correlations to <strong>the</strong> GTS, <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean event stratigraphy <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong><strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong> (M1–M3) (Krijgsman et al., 1999; Roveri et al., 2008) <strong>and</strong> to <strong>the</strong> oxygen isotope curves <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Atlantic margin <strong>of</strong> Morocco (Hilgen et al., 2007). Red star/foraminifer indicates influx <strong>of</strong> marine nann<strong>of</strong>ossils (Marunteanu <strong>and</strong> Papaianopol, 1998)/foraminifera (see Fig. 4). Schematic cross-sections show <strong>the</strong> changes in connectivity <strong>and</strong><strong>the</strong> phases <strong>of</strong> basin isolation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> <strong>and</strong> Mediterranean <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong>.7.1. The onset <strong>of</strong> “Lower Gypsum” formation in <strong>the</strong> MediterraneanOur new data shows that <strong>the</strong> onset <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong>in <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean was directly preceded by <strong>the</strong> marine flooding <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> Eastern <strong>Paratethys</strong>, confirming <strong>the</strong> hypo<strong>the</strong>sis that <strong>the</strong> LowerGypsum units formed <strong>during</strong> a relative high-st<strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> Mediterraneansea level (Flecker et al., 2002; Krijgsman <strong>and</strong> Meijer, 2008). Atransgression at <strong>the</strong> onset <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> evaporite formation is inserious contrast to hypo<strong>the</strong>ses inferring glacio-eustatic sea levellowering (Hsü et al., 1973; Clauzon et al., 2005), but has earlier beensuggested on <strong>the</strong> basis <strong>of</strong> strontium isotope models (Flecker et al.,2002; Flecker <strong>and</strong> Ellam, 2006). It is interesting to note that <strong>the</strong> bloom<strong>of</strong> Odessian ostracods (Fig. 3), indicating re-stabilization <strong>of</strong> paleoenvironmentalconditions in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong>, coincides with <strong>the</strong> onset <strong>of</strong>MSC evaporites at 5.96 Ma in <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean (Krijgsman et al.,1999). Consequently, <strong>the</strong> changes in <strong>Paratethys</strong>–Mediterraneanconnectivity at <strong>the</strong> Maeotian–Pontian transition interval probablygenerated a new hydrological equilibrium in both <strong>Paratethys</strong> <strong>and</strong>Mediterranean that allows gypsum to precipitate <strong>during</strong> astronomically-forcedoptimum (=dry) climate conditions on a precessionalresolution in <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean Basin (Krijgsman et al., 2001).A flooding <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> basin could only have happened if itswater level was significantly below global ocean <strong>and</strong> Mediterranean level.This indicates that <strong>the</strong> hydrological budget for <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> region inMaeotian times was slightly negative. Establishing a Mediterranean–<strong>Paratethys</strong> connection would result in an increased hydrological flux into<strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> <strong>and</strong> consequently an increase in water <strong>and</strong> salt flux from<strong>the</strong> Atlantic into <strong>the</strong> highly restricted evaporation-dominated Mediterranean.We speculate that creating a connection to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> willincrease Mediterranean stratification <strong>and</strong> ultimately influence <strong>the</strong>hydrodynamics <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gibraltar gateways, two crucial factors to explain<strong>the</strong> onset <strong>of</strong> widespread gypsum deposition <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong> MSC (Meijer <strong>and</strong>Krijgsman, 2005).7.2. Location <strong>of</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> floodingAno<strong>the</strong>r intriguing question is: where did <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> floodingactually come from? The Aegean region <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean <strong>Sea</strong> is<strong>the</strong> most likely source area according to <strong>the</strong> paleogeographicreconstructions <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> domain (e.g. Popov et al., 2006),although we cannot exclude <strong>the</strong> Indian Ocean on <strong>the</strong> basis <strong>of</strong> our data.A flooding event is fur<strong>the</strong>r expected to leave marked traces <strong>of</strong>significant erosion on l<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore <strong>the</strong> Bosporus region (e.g.Loget et al. 2005). The Karadeniz-1 borehole in <strong>the</strong> European part <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> Turkish Black <strong>Sea</strong> shelf indeed shows <strong>Messinian</strong> erosional surfaces(Gillet et al., 2007), which can possibly be traced to <strong>the</strong> Karacaköyregion at <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> margin northwest <strong>of</strong> Istanbul. We thusconsider a Karacaköy–Karadeniz passage as potential c<strong>and</strong>idate toaccount for <strong>the</strong> flooding event, but more detailed biostratigraphic datais necessary to confirm this hypo<strong>the</strong>sis.


190 W. Krijgsman et al. / Earth <strong>and</strong> Planetary Science Letters 290 (2010) 183–1917.3. Down drop <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea level <strong>during</strong> <strong>the</strong> MSCThe observed <strong>fall</strong> in Paratethyan water level at <strong>the</strong> base <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>Portaferrian is estimated to have occurred at 5.8 Ma in <strong>the</strong> DacianBasin (Fig. 3). This is remarkably close to glacial peaks TG22–20(Fig. 6), which are suggested to have caused a significant drop inglobal sea level (Shackleton et al., 1995). In <strong>the</strong> Zheleznyi Rogsuccession this interval also shows evidence <strong>of</strong> sea level lowering,expressed by <strong>the</strong> occurrence <strong>of</strong> white shell beds <strong>of</strong> Portaferrian age(Po 2 : Popov et al., 2006).The climax <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong> occurred <strong>during</strong> glacialpeaks TG12–14, when <strong>the</strong> water exchange with <strong>the</strong> Atlantic becamerestricted resulting in <strong>the</strong> formation <strong>of</strong> massive halite in <strong>the</strong> deepestparts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean <strong>and</strong> a dramatic <strong>fall</strong> in water level (Fig. 6).The potential connection to <strong>Paratethys</strong> thus also would have becomelost, lowering <strong>the</strong> water level in <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> Basin immediately to<strong>the</strong> level <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> paleo-Bosphorus. Our data from Zheleznyi Rog suggestthat this event is clearly reflected in <strong>the</strong> sharp transition to <strong>the</strong> reddishinterval at <strong>the</strong> Russian Black <strong>Sea</strong> margin <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Taman Peninsula. Theultimate lake levels in <strong>the</strong> isolated Dacian, Black <strong>Sea</strong> <strong>and</strong> Caspianbasins will obviously be influenced by astronomically inducedchanges <strong>of</strong> regional climate. Depending on <strong>the</strong> hydrological budget<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> individual <strong>Paratethys</strong> basins desiccation (negative) or overflow(positive) will take place (Fig. 6).A marked change occurs in <strong>the</strong> oxygen isotope curves after TG12 at5.5 Ma (Fig. 6), interpreted to result in much warmer <strong>and</strong> humid globalclimates (Hodell et al., 2001; Hilgen et al., 2007). This resulted in apositive hydrological change <strong>and</strong> caused widespread transgression <strong>of</strong>Lago-Mare/Upper Evaporite facies over <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> erosional surfaces(L<strong>of</strong>i et al., 2005; Roveri et al., 2008). Transgressional sequences areespecially clear in Nor<strong>the</strong>rn Italy where <strong>the</strong>y are attributed to anincreased hydrological flux from <strong>the</strong> Alps (Willet et al., 2006). The timeequivalenttransgression in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> can also be explained by<strong>the</strong>se regional climatic changes.The alternative hypo<strong>the</strong>sis for this transgression is <strong>the</strong> re-establishment<strong>of</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong>–Mediterranean connectivity by <strong>the</strong> Zanclean deluge<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean at <strong>the</strong> Miocene Pliocene boundary (5.33 Ma). Thiswould better explain <strong>the</strong> sharp transition from littoral <strong>and</strong> fluvialPortaferrian facies to predominantly pelitic facies in <strong>the</strong> lowerBosphorian. The Bosphorian ostracod <strong>and</strong> mollusc fauna do not showevidence <strong>of</strong> significant freshening <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> water conditions, although<strong>the</strong>ir strontium isotope ratios suggest isolation from <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean(Vasiliev, 2006). Mio–Pliocene connectivity at high sea level has earlierbeen suggested by Clauzon et al. (2005), but <strong>the</strong>se authors based it on<strong>the</strong> nann<strong>of</strong>ossil influxes in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> at <strong>the</strong> Pontian–Dacianboundary which are dated at 4.7 Ma <strong>and</strong> have thus no relation at allwith <strong>the</strong> Pliocene flooding. We realize that a correlation to <strong>the</strong> Zancleanflooding cannot be excluded on <strong>the</strong> basis <strong>of</strong> our data. However, were <strong>the</strong><strong>Paratethys</strong> transgression to be coeval with <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean flooding,substantial changes in sedimentation rate would be required, especiallyby a major (4×) increase in <strong>the</strong> lowermost part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Bosphorian(below <strong>the</strong> Thvera). We have not seen any evidence for such an increasein <strong>the</strong> field, nor in <strong>the</strong> Râmnicu Sărat section (east Carpathian foredeep),nor in <strong>the</strong> Topolog region (south Carpathian foredeep). Future researchshould <strong>the</strong>refore aim at localizing marine influxes at <strong>the</strong> base <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>Bosphorian <strong>and</strong> focus on geochemical proxies that may quantify<strong>Paratethys</strong>–Mediterranean connectivity.8. ConclusionsOur integrated stratigraphic data results in a robust chronologicalframework for <strong>the</strong> Dacian <strong>and</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> basins <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Eastern <strong>Paratethys</strong>(Table 1), allowing high-resolution stratigraphic correlations between<strong>the</strong> individual <strong>Paratethys</strong> subbasins <strong>and</strong> with <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong><strong>Crisis</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean (Fig. 6). The Maeotian/Pontian boundary isdated at 6.04 Ma <strong>and</strong> corresponds to a major faunal change triggered byamarineflooding <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong>, as evidenced by <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong>planktonic foraminifera. The lowermost Pontian (Odessian/Novorossian)substage relates to a general high-st<strong>and</strong> in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong>, possiblywith interbasinal <strong>and</strong> Mediterranean connections. The onset <strong>of</strong> MSCevaporites closely coincides in age with <strong>the</strong> bloom <strong>of</strong> Odessian ostracodsin <strong>the</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> at ∼5.95 Ma. The peak <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> MSC at 5.6–5.5 Madefinitely ended Mediterranean–<strong>Paratethys</strong> connectivity in <strong>the</strong> Portaferrian,causing a sudden drawdown <strong>of</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong> water levels <strong>of</strong> atleast 50–100 m <strong>and</strong> isolating <strong>the</strong> Caspian <strong>Sea</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin from<strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> domain. From 5.5 Ma onward a major change in Eurasianclimate, resulting in much warmer <strong>and</strong> humid conditions changed <strong>the</strong>hydrological balance <strong>and</strong> resulted in a widespread transgression inMediterranean <strong>and</strong> <strong>Paratethys</strong>. The Miocene/Pliocene boundary maycorrespond to <strong>the</strong> Portaferrian/Bosphorian boundary in <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin<strong>and</strong> to <strong>the</strong> top <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> red layer in Zheleznyi Rog, i.e. within <strong>the</strong> lowerKimmerian <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Black <strong>Sea</strong> Basin, but certainly not to <strong>the</strong> Pontian/Dacian boundary in <strong>the</strong> Dacian Basin, which is dated ∼600 kyr youngerat 4.7 Ma.Our new stratigraphic framework has also serious consequences for<strong>the</strong> Mediterranean MSC. Ever since <strong>the</strong> discovery <strong>of</strong> widespread<strong>Messinian</strong> evaporites all over <strong>the</strong> Mediterranean seafloor, tectonic orglacio-eustatic processes restricting <strong>and</strong> closing <strong>the</strong> water exchange to<strong>the</strong> Atlantic in <strong>the</strong> west have been put forward <strong>and</strong> modeled tounderst<strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> causes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Messinian</strong> <strong>Salinity</strong> <strong>Crisis</strong> (Hsü et al., 1973;Meijer <strong>and</strong> Krijgsman, 2005; Ryan, 2009), but conclusive answers arestill lacking. Our data suggest that changing <strong>the</strong> connectivity to <strong>the</strong><strong>Paratethys</strong> in <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>ast could play an essential role in <strong>the</strong> onset <strong>of</strong>gypsum formation, which should give ample ammunition for new ideas<strong>and</strong> models concerning evaporite formation in semi-isolated basins.This will also have major implications for paleoceanographic circulationpatterns, Mediterranean paleosalinity models <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> internal stratification<strong>of</strong> its water column.AcknowledgementsWe thank Dan Jipa, Iulia Lazăr ar <strong>and</strong> Gheorghe Popescu for <strong>the</strong>ir helpwith sedimentological <strong>and</strong> biostratigraphical analyses <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> RâmnicuSărat data. Alex<strong>and</strong>r Iosifidi is acknowledged for skilful paleomagneticsampling at Zheleznyi Rog. Cor Langereis, Frits Hilgen, Paul Meijer <strong>and</strong>Pasha Karami are thanked for discussions <strong>and</strong> useful comments on anearlier version <strong>of</strong> this manuscript. Rachel Flecker, Miguel Garcés <strong>and</strong>four anonymous EPSL reviewers are thanked for <strong>the</strong>ir constructivecomments. Sergei Yudin <strong>and</strong> Vika Tomsha assisted with <strong>the</strong> paleomagneticanalyses. This study was performed under <strong>the</strong> inspiring leadership<strong>of</strong> Cor Langereis <strong>and</strong> Alexei Khramov, within <strong>the</strong> NWO program onDutch–Russian cooperation. 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