The Miocene-Pliocene boundary and the Messinian Salinity Crisis in the easternmost Mediterranean: Insights from the Hatay Graben (Southern Turkey)
The Hatay Graben is one of three easternmost basins in the Mediterranean that preserve sediments that span the Miocene–Pliocene boundary, including gypsums from the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC). Here we integrate existing data and present new sedimentological and micropalaeontological data to investigate the palaeoenvironments of late Miocene to early Pliocene deposits and place this important area into a regional stratigraphic framework. Six sections are described along a ~ W–E transect illustrating the key features of this time period. Late Miocene (Pre-MSC) sediments are characterised by open marine marls with a benthic foraminiferal fauna suggestive of water depths of 100–200 m or less. Primary lower gypsum deposits are determined to be absent from the graben as sedimentological and strontium isotopes are characteristic of the Resedimented Lower Gypsums. The intervening Messinian erosion surface is preserved near the basin margins as an unconformity but appears to be a correlative conformity in the basin depocentre. No Upper Gypsums or ‘Lago Mare’ facies have been identified but available data do tentatively suggest a return to marine conditions in the basin prior to the Zanclean boundary. Sediments stratigraphically overlying the Messinian gypsums and marls are coarse-grained sandstones from coastal and Gilbert-type delta depositional environments. The Hatay Graben is not only strikingly similar to Messinian basins on nearby Cyprus but also to the overall model for the MSC, demonstrating the remarkable consistency of palaeoenvironments found in marginal basins across the region at this time. This research also raises questions as to the timing of the Mediterranean reflooding and the significance of the widespread mega-breccias of the resedimented gypsum deposits.