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The causes and consequences of the Messinian Salinity Crisis

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Five to six million years ago ~1.5km of salt precipitated on the Mediterranean sea floor in an event known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis. This youngest and largest of Earth’s salt giants represents the precipitation and sequestration of about 5% of global ocean salt.

Untangling the roles played by climate and tectonics in causing the Messinian Salinity Crisis has been the focus of many studies over the last three decades since the Deep Sea Drilling Program first recovered Late Miocene evaporites from the Mediterranean. The global consequences of this extreme event however, have remained unclear. In this talk I’ll consider whether, despite its impressive scale, the Messinian Salinity Crisis is an unimportant side show in Earth history, or whether we’ve just been asking the wrong question.

This talk is part of the Sedgwick Club talks series.

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