Special Section: Paleoceanography of Marginal Seas
Anoxic basins of the eastern Mediterranean: An overview
Article first published online: 4 MAY 2010
Copyright 1991 by the American Geophysical Union.
Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 133–141, February 1991
How to Cite
1991), Anoxic basins of the eastern Mediterranean: An overview, Paleoceanography, 6(1), 133–141, doi:10.1029/90PA01789.(
- Issue published online: 4 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 4 MAY 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 AUG 1990
- Manuscript Received: 1 APR 1990
It is well known that the Mediterranean Sea underwent several episodes of basin-wide stagnation in the Plio/Pleistocene, but extant anoxic basins were first discovered between 1983 and 1984 in the Strabo Trench and in the southwestern slopes of the Mediterranean Ridge, facing the Sirte Abyssal Plain. Since then, several expeditions were carried out to investigate the geology and physiography of the basins as well as the physical and chemical characters of the water column. Although the geodynamic settings of the Tyro and Bannock basins are quite different, they are very deep, closed and filled by dense, salty, cold brines, whose presence is attributed to submarine dissolution of Messinian evaporites. Bannock Basin is interpreted as a collapse basin, with a complex configuration, central domes and several satellite basins most of which are anoxic. Unlike the Tyro Basin, it is characterized by precipitation of gypsum, occurring as euhedral crystals within the sediments, and dredged along the steep wall bordering the main basin to the East. The interface separating normal seawater from the brines corresponds to a well-defined pycnocline with a density contrast of approximately 20%, where strong bacterial activity seems to occur and a sudden decrease in transmittance is recorded. Studies on the water column document drastic changes of all the various parameters measured (O2, H2S, Ca, PO4, Ba) across the interface. Sediments deposited beneath the brines are anoxic. This kind of geologically induced anoxia is persistent and diachronous, in contrast with the isochronous, episodic, repetitive and climatically induced anoxia recorded in the same area of the eastern Mediterranean.