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The Messinian Salinity Crisis, a Perspective for Reservoir Exploration in the Mediterranean and Adjacent Basins

Jean-Pierre Suc, Francois Bache, Christian Gorini, Damien Do Couto, Laurent Jolivet, Jean-Loup Rubino, Ludovic Mocochain, and Speranta - Maria Popescu

The distinction between peripheral and central Mediterranean basins has constituted a crucial advance in the knowledge of the scenario of the Messinian Salinity Crisis, both from the viewpoints of paleogeographic and factual reconstructions within an accurate chronostratigraphic frame. The evidence around the Mediterranean Basin and adjacent basins (such as the Paratethys) of fluvial valleys cut during the peak of the Messinian Salinity Crisis allowed to point out thick clastic deposits within the Mediterranean central basins as a consequence of the sea-level drawdown (ca. 1500 m) prior to the deposition of evaporites (including halite) during the earliest phase of reflooding by Atlantic marine waters.

These outstanding variations in sea level resulted in important paleogeographic changes such as intra-basin disconnections-connections, lake or river captures, tectonic responses, etc. which controlled transport and location of deposition of coarse sediments.

After the complete marine reflooding in the peripheral areas, the Messinian valleys have been filled by terrigenous deposits including coarse blocks caused by debris flows, then Gilbert-type fan deltas prograding systems. The related reference surfaces (Messinian Erosional Surface, marine-continental transition, abandonment surface) are useful for quantifying subsequent vertical tectonic movements.

The resulting integrated scenario of the Messinian Salinity Crisis evidences common features to the Mediterranean region sensu lato but emphasizes regional differences due to geodynamic and paleogeographic specificities.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90161©2013 AAPG European Regional Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 8-10 April 2013