Limited Mediterranean sea-level drop during the Messinian salinity crisis inferred from the buried Nile canyon

Zohar Gvirtzman*, Hanneke Heida, Daniel Garcia-Castellanos, Oded Bar, Elchanan Zucker, Yehouda Enzel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The extreme Mediterranean sea-level drop during the Messinian salinity crisis has been known for >50 years, but its amplitude and duration remain a challenge. Here we estimate its amplitude by restoring the topography of the Messinian Nile canyon and the vertical position of the Messinian coastline by unloading of post-Messinian sediment and accounting for flexural isostasy and compaction. We estimate the original depth of the geomorphological base level of the Nile River at ~600 m below present sea level, implying a drawdown 2–4 times smaller than previously estimated from the Nile canyon and suggesting that salt precipitated under 1–3 km deep waters. This conclusion is at odds with the nearly-desiccated basin model (>2 km drawdown) dominating the scientific literature for 50 years. Yet, a 600 m drawdown is ca. five times larger than eustatic fluctuations and its impact on the Mediterranean continental margins is incomparable to any glacial sea-level fall.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number216
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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© 2022, The Author(s).

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