Carbonates and Evaporites

, 6:169 | Cite as

Messinian (Miocene) evaporites of the Mediterranean basin: A new approach to an old Bandwagon

  • Gerald M. Friedman


In 1970-71 W.B.F. Ryan asked me to study and interpret the depositional environment of dolstones and evaporite rocks from Deep Sea Drilling Project boreholes in the western Mediterranean Sea. Comparisons of these Mediterranean rocks with modern sediments of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea and exposures of Miocene rocks of the Red Sea and Jurassic rocks of the Persian Gulf convinced me that these Mediterranean rocks originated in a subaerial setting (Friedman, 1973). The nodular anhydrite is indicative of subaerial exposure of soft sediments in which nodules are formed by displacement of the host sediment. The salts are inferred to have formed by replacement of antecedent sulfates in sabkha-like brine-logged flats (Friedman, 1972).

To test if the evaporites could have formed in a deep barred basin diligent search was made for gypsum and anhydrite in cores taken from the entire length of the Red Sea, a deep barred basin which during the Quaternary was periodically isolated from the world’s oceans. The astonishing observation is that other than in anomalous deep hot metal-bearing brine “holes”, evaporite minerals, are entirely absent from the floor of the Red Sea. The Red Sea demonstrates that in a barred basin evaporite sulfate minerals may not accumulate, even should they form. Instead they will be degraded to form low-magnesian calcite. By contrast evaporites form in sea-marginal settings of the Red Sea. Thus evidence from the Red Sea suggests that the Messinian evaporites of the Mediterranean could not have formed in a deep, barred basin.

Several kilometers of epeirogenic uplift of circum-Mediterranean platforms isolated Mediterranean basins and probably restricted their access to the world’s oceans. The Messinian evaporites are inferred to have formed in brine-logged flats in shallow basins with periodic access to the world’s oceans, depending on yoyo movements of multiple epeirogenies.


Gypsum Miocene Anhydrite Evaporite Messinian 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald M. Friedman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeologyBrooklyn CollegeBrooklyn
  2. 2.Northeastern Science FoundationTroy

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