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Abstract

It has just been within the past 15 years that intensive studies of in situ evaporite deposits have been carried out and the first working models formulated for the origin of such deposits. These studies have focused on deposition along supratidal margins of normal marine basins. However, examination of evidence from the geologic record has long suggested that many evaporite bodies were also deposited within previously existing, open marine basins. These basins apparently had become constricted and developed hypersaline conditions within the water which they enclosed. Recently, data obtained from the latest Miocene (Messinian) sediments of the Mediterranean Basin and from modern salinas have shown that specific submarine evaporites do indeed exist and their facies are demonstrable. The primary composition, texture, and form that comprise these subaqueous deposits are only partly understood. Incomplete understanding arises, in part, because there are so few hypersaline water bodies existing in the world today in which environments may be observed that serve as an analogy to those which formed evaporites. It seems that another problem in interpretation of any marine evaporite, whether modern or ancient, lies within the materials themselves because they are exceedingly prone to alteration both while on the surface and after burial. Because of this ease of alteration, the ancient record left to us can be totally misleading.

The range of environments under which evaporites can form and accumulate is as diverse as that for carbonates, and, in a general way, for every type of carbonate sediment, there is an equivalent evaporite.

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