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ABSTRACT

In Sicily, Messinian evaporitic sedimentary deposits are developed under a wide variety of hypersaline conditions and in environments ranging from continental margin (subaerial), to basin-margin supratidal, to intertidal, to subtidal and out into the hypersaline basin proper. The actual water depth at the time of deposition is indeterminate; however, relative terms such as ‘wave base’ and ‘photic zone’ are utilized. The inter-fingering relationships of specific evaporitic facies having clear and recognizable physical characteristics are presented. These include sub-aerial deposits of nodular calcium sulphate formed displacively within clastic sediments; gypsiferous rudites, arenites and arenitic marls, all of which are reworked sediments and are mixed in varying degrees with other clastic materials (subaerial, supratidal, and intertidal to deep basinal deposits). Laminated calcium sulphate alternating with very thin carbonate interlaminae and having two different aspects; one being even and continuous and the other of a wavy, irregular appearance (subtidal, intertidal, and supratidal deposits). Nodular calcium sulphate beds, usually associated with wavy, irregular laminated beds (supratidal, sabkha deposits); very coarsely crystalline gypsum beds (selenite), associated with more even, laminated beds (subaqueous, intertidal to subtidal deposits); wavy anastomozing gypsum beds, composed of very fine, often broken crystals (subaqueous, current-swept deposits); halite having hopper and chevron structures (supratidal to intertidal); and halite, potash salts, etc. having continuous laminated structure (subaqueous, possibly basinal).

Evidence for diagenetic changes is observed in the calcium sulphate deposits which apparently formed by tectonic stress and also by migrating hypersaline waters. These observations suggest that the common, massive form of alabastrine gypsum (or anhydrite, in the subsurface) may not always be ascribed to original depositional features, to syndiagenesis or to early diagenesis but may be the result of late diagenesis.