, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 137-142

First online:

The miocene desiccation of the Mediterranean and its climatical and zoogeographical implications

  • Kenneth J. HsüAffiliated withGeological Institute, ETH Zurich

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That a basin covering millions of square kilometers and lying thousands of meters below sea level should become desiccated seems to be an improbable event. Yet a synthesis of all available data from drill cores and from land geology left us with no other alternative except this improbable event did indeed take place five million years ago, not only once but ten times or more during the million-year interval of the Messinian Stage. A presentation of detailed geological evidence is included in the Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Projects cruise to the Mediterranean, only a brief summary of our arguments has been given in this article. Meanwhile the implications of the Mediterranean desiccation on paleoclimatology and zoogeography remain still largely unexplored. It is hoped that our colleagues in other disciplines of natural sciences might explore the value of the desiccated-deep-basin model as a working hypothesis to explain some of their own puzzles.