Abstract

The late Miocene Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) was an extraordinary geologic event in the Mediterranean Basin marked by massive salt accumulation and presumably basin desiccation as a consequence of the reduced water exchange with the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery of a desiccation deposit in the Black Sea, the so-called Pebbly Breccia unit, was used to claim that the Black Sea also became desiccated during the MSC. Erosional features interpreted from seismic profiles of the Black Sea margin, correlated by some to the Pebbly Breccia unit, were used to support this hypothesis. However, the age of the Pebbly Breccia is poorly constrained, and its origin and relevance to the MSC subject to controversy. Here we present new biostratigraphic (dinoflagellate cyst) data from two key sedimentary successions located in a deep and a marginal setting of the Black Sea Basin. These records demonstrate that the Pebbly Breccia predates the Mediterranean water-level drop during the MSC. We argue that the presumed erosional features in the Black Sea Basin are not related to the MSC and likely represent an older Miocene event.

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