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Abstract

Environments that may result in deposition of evaporites occur in a sedimentary continuum which begins in the subaerial continental environment and extends into a hypersaline sea. The evaporitic sedimentary sequence of latest Miocene (Messinian) age, near Salemi, Sicily, contains carbonate rocks, argil I ites and gypsum that are compared with sediments in a modern salina at Salina Santa Margherita di Savoia, Italy. Fine-scale similarities between sediments of the salina and those of the section at Salemi provide a basis for interpretation of ancient evaporites. The Messinian evaporites developed in a small basin during the pan-Mediterranean salinity crisis; they contain a vertical facies succession that follows the facies association observed in the working salina. By using the horizontal sedimentary sequence in the salina as a model record of evaporation of an ancient hypersaline water body, it becomes possible to relate certain textures of gypsum sediments to their paleoenvironments of deposition and other textures to post-depositional alterations.

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