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SEISMIC ATLAS of The Messinian Salinity Crisis markers in the Mediterranean and Black Seas

Mémoire 179

Johanna Lofi (conception & coordination) Jacques Déverchère Virginie Gaullier Hervé Gillet Christian Gorini Pol Guennoc Lies Loncke Agnès Maillard Françoise Sage Isabelle Thinon

Commission for the Geological Map of the World / Mémoires de la Société Géologique de France, n.s., 2011, t. 179, 72 p., 1 CD

The Messinian Salinity Crisis is a huge outstanding succession of events that has deeply modified the Mediterranean area within a short time span at the geological scale.

The seismic Atlas of the Messinian Salinity markers in the Mediterranean and Black seas is a collective work summarizing, in one publication with a common format, the most relevant seismic features related to this exceptionnal event. Seismic information has been collected over many years from the offshore domain. Throughout 13 study areas, the seismic facies, geometry and extent of the Messinian markers (surfaces and depositional units) are described.  

The absolute time succession of the Messinian events, or the processes responsible for their occurrence in space and time are not discussed. The objectives of this atlas are:

1) to image the Messinian seismic markers from the main margins and basins;
2) to propose a new global and consistent terminology for these markers in the entire offshore Mediterranean area and
3) to make this information accessible to the non-geophysicist community.

Interpreted seismic data were carefully selected according to their quality, position and significance in order to reach these objectives, and are presented here.


- 1 Explanatory note
- 1 Synthesis sheet of the organisation of the markers allowing an inter-site comparison
- 43 sheets organized in 13 study areas. Each area contains the following themes: Regional setting, MSC surfaces, MSC Basinal Units, and for specific study areas, detritism and/or salt tectonics
- 1 CD with raw and interpreted seismic data


The Atlas illustrates 13 study areas on margin segments and basis that have various structural, geodynamical and geological backgrounds (eg. intermediate/deep basin; with/without sill; active/passive margin; thin/thick sedimentary cover, etc...). The Atlas thus allows an integrated study at the scale of the Mediterranean basin. This new approach, based on multi-site comparative studies, will allow in the future to discuss the impact of the MSC and to document the way the MSC left its imprints in the offshore domain.


A new global and consistent terminology is proposed for MSC markers (erosion surfaces and depositional units). The terminology of the depositional units is based on their seismic facies and the geometrical relationship of the units with respect to the Mobile Unit (transparent facies and associated plastic deformation). The erosion surfaces have been defined based on their relationship with the Pre-MSC and MSC units, and the Plio-Quaternary cover.

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