Messinian to Pliocene transition in the deep part of the Sorbas Basin, SE Spain – a new description of the depositional environment during the Messinian Salinity Crisis

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The extent, timing and effects of the Late Miocene desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea during the period of the Messinian Salinity Crisis (5.96-5.33 Ma) remain controversial. In the Betic Cordillera of southeast Spain, close to the present-day Mediterranean, the Neogene Sorbas Basin contains one of the most complete sedimentary successions of this period. Recent work in the basin was mainly concentrated on the area around the town of Sorbas and the village of Cariatiz, both located along the Messinian palaeomargin of the basin. The present study presents a first detailed description of the sediments with precise facies reconstructions in the deepest part of the Sorbas Basin. The sediments are predominatly siltstones and sandstones, and belong to the Messinian Sorbas Member (5.67-5.5 Ma) and the Messinian to Pliocene Zorreras Member (5.5-5.33 Ma). It has been suggested that the fine-grained marine silt- and sandstones of the distal Sorbas Member show evidence of repeated fluctuations of sea level and restricted hypersaline conditions in the basin. The overlying continental silt- and sandstones of the Zorreras Member show evidence of intensive soil development processes. The uppermost part of this member contains high-energy marine sediments. We would strongly argue that both members were deposited during the main desiccation phase of the MSC, when the Sorbas Basin was cut off from the, at least partially, dried up Mediterranean Sea, and a reestablishment of normal marine conditions across the basin in early Pliocene.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2011

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