The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC) [Hsü et al., 1973] has deeply shaped the Mediterranean landscape and triggered large sedimentary deposits (evaporites and clastics) in the deep basins within a short time span. Until recently, the MSC has mainly been analyzed independently, either through outcrops located onshore (e.g. Morocco, Cyprus, Spain, Sardinia, Italy) or through marine seismic profiles in the deep offshore. Each approach bears its own limitations: (1) on the one hand, land outcrops refer to incomplete Messinian successions that are geometrically disconnected from the offshore Messinian deposits owing to tectonics (e.g. Apennines) and/or because they accumulated at an early stage of the crisis in shallow marginal basins (e.g. Spain); (2) on the other hand, seismic profiles from the upper margins down to the deep basins allow to image and explore the entire MSC event as a continuous process, but with a lower resolution and with a lack of stratigraphical and lithological control, in the absence of full recovery of scientific boreholes.
We present here a synthesis of a set of modern geophysical data over the Mediterranean and Black seas allowing to image the Messinian markers (erosion surfaces, depositional units and their bounding surfaces) much better than previously and to study the spatio-temporal organisation of these markers from the inner-shelves down to the bathyal plains. The results from thirteen areas located offshore are compared, with common charts and nomenclatures. The comparative and multi-site approach developed here allows to analyse the record of the MSC on margin segments and basins that depict various structural, geodynamical and geological settings, to fix a number of local influencing factors (tectonics, subsidence, inherited topography, sedimentary fluxes...) and to partly assess their influence in facies and geometrical variations of the MSC units. We are thus able to extract from our analysis some recurrent signals related to the MSC ss., allowing us to discuss: (1) the amplitude and modalities of base-level changes during the MSC; (2) the depositional modalities of the MSC units in the deep basins; (3) the location of the erosion product of the margins and to emphasise (4) the major differences between the eastern and western Mediterranean basins.