Latest Miocene restriction of the Mediterranean Outflow Water: a perspective from the Gulf of Cádiz

Zhi Lin Ng, F. J. Hernández-Molina, Débora Duarte, Francisco J. Sierro, Santiago Ledesma, Mike Rogerson, Estefanía Llave, Cristina Roque, M Amine Manar

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The Mediterranean-Atlantic water mass exchange provides the ideal setting for deciphering the role of gateway evolution in ocean circulation. However, the dynamics of Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW) during the closure of the Late Miocene Mediterranean-Atlantic gateways are poorly understood. Here, we define the sedimentary evolution of Neogene basins from the Gulf of Cádiz to the West Iberian margin to investigate MOW circulation during the latest Miocene. Seismic interpretation highlights a middle to upper Messinian seismic unit of transparent facies, whose base predates the onset of the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC). Its facies and distribution imply a predominantly hemipelagic environment along the Atlantic margins, suggesting an absence or intermittence of MOW preceding evaporite precipitation in the Mediterranean, simultaneous to progressive gateway restriction. The removal of MOW from the Mediterranean-Atlantic water mass exchange reorganized the Atlantic water masses and is correlated to a severe weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and a period of further cooling in the North Atlantic during the latest Miocene.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages17
JournalGeo-Marine Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021

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