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The Mediterranean Connections

English title The Mediterranean Connections
Applicant Spezzaferri Silvia
Number 126367
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Département des Géosciences Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Palaeontology
Start/End 01.11.2009 - 31.10.2010
Approved amount 90'793.72
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Palaeontology
Oceanography
Geology

Keywords (9)

Mediterranean; connections; Climate; sea-level changes; Paleoceanography; Alboran-Cadiz system; benthic foraminifera; geochemistry; Black Sea

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Because of its geographical location and setting, the Mediterranean Sea, acts as a paleo-environmental amplifier and as a sensitive recorder for environmental changes. The basin is connected at East with enclosed sub-basins with complex histories and characterized by peculiar environmental settings: the Tethyan relict basins (Marmara and Black Seas). To the West the Mediterranean Sea connects to an open ocean: the Atlantic.This project aims to investigate the Mediterranean connections in the last 150.000 years. It is focused to complete with the additional fourth year an on-going thesis on the Eastern Mediterranean -Black Sea connections (thesis of G. Gennari).Despite the extraordinary number of researches that deal with the late Pleistocene-Holocene paleoceanography history of this region, there are still several hotly debated topics without a clear documentation and explanation. With this project we aim to investigate the nature and mechanisms that controlled the Mediterranean - Black Sea connections during the last 30.000 years, that is from the dawn of human civilization to the present days focusing on the region around the Bosphorus Strait, the Sea of MArmara and the Eastern Mediterranean. This multidisciplinary study include: (1) paleontological studies of benthic and planktonic foraminiferal assemblages from cores in the Estern Mediterranean, Marmara and Black Sea. (2) Geochemical studies of oxygen and carbon isotopes of foraminiferal shells, phosphorus and organic matter in sediments as well as XRF, of cores and (3) AMS14C dating.Easter Mediterranean: The results of the previous project include the identification of high-frequency millennial to decennial-scale solar cycles centered at 1700, 550, 210, 85-70, 60 and 50 years, suggesting that also during sapropel S1 deposition, climate in the Mediterranean region was paced by solar variability even at short periodicities confirming the strong sensitivity of Mediterranean climate even at a decennial scale.Black Sea: Three lithological units have been identified in sediments in front of the Bosphorus Strait. From bottom to top theyare: 1) an alternation of light and dark lutite (lacustrine deposits); 2) an organic-rich sapropel layer; 3) an alternation of light and dark microlaminae (coccolith ooze). Although these lithological units are usually not recognizable in shelf sediments due to their high sedimentological variability, calcareous nannoplankton ecozones have recently been used for wide shelf-basin correlations, tracking the shift from fresh/brackish to low-salinity marine conditions.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
FAUNAL EVIDENCE OF A HOLOCENE PLUVIAL PHASE IN SOUTHERN ARABIA WITH REMARKS ON THE MORPHOLOGICAL VARIABILITY OF HELENINA ANDERSENI
G. Gennari F. Tamburini D. Ariztegui I. Hajdas S. Spezzaferri (2011), FAUNAL EVIDENCE OF A HOLOCENE PLUVIAL PHASE IN SOUTHERN ARABIA WITH REMARKS ON THE MORPHOLOGICAL VARIABILITY OF HELENINA ANDERSENI, in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 273, 239-248.
Growth and demise of cold-water coral ecosystems on mud volcanoes in the West Alboran Sea: The messages from the planktonic and benthic foraminifera
S. Margreth S. G. Gennari A. Rüggeberg M.C. Comas L.M. Pinheiro S. Spezzaferri (2011), Growth and demise of cold-water coral ecosystems on mud volcanoes in the West Alboran Sea: The messages from the planktonic and benthic foraminifera, in Marine Geology, 282, 26-39.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
SwissSed 2011 Talk given at a conference 26.02.2011 Fribourg, Switzerland Spezzaferri Silvia; Gennari Giordana;
Foram 2010 Talk given at a conference 10.09.2010 Bonn, Germany Gennari Giordana; Spezzaferri Silvia;
International Conference: The Colors of Cretaceous and Paleogene Oceans Talk given at a conference 24.05.2010 Verbania, Italy Gennari Giordana; Spezzaferri Silvia;
Mediterranean Science Commission (CIESM) 2010 Talk given at a conference 14.05.2010 Venice, Italy Gennari Giordana; Spezzaferri Silvia;
European Geosciences Union General Assembly (EGU 2010 Talk given at a conference 07.04.2010 Vienna, Austria Gennari Giordana; Spezzaferri Silvia;
SwissSed 2010 Talk given at a conference 27.02.2010 Fribourg, Switzerland Gennari Giordana; Spezzaferri Silvia;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
131829 Foraminifera from cold-water coral ecosystems: The Mediterranean connections 01.04.2011 Project funding
117928 Foraminifera as paleoenvironmental tracers 01.10.2007 Project funding
111694 The Nature of the Mediterranean - Black Sea Connections 01.11.2006 Project funding

Abstract

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the largest enclosed basins on Earth. Because of its geographical location and setting, the Mediterranean Sea as a whole acts as a paleo-environmental amplifier and as a sensitive recorder for global and regional environmental changes. The Mediterranean Sea connects to the East with enclosed basins formed by an extremely complex geological history and characterized by peculiar environmental settings: the Tethyan relict basins (Marmara and Black Seas). To the West the Mediterranean Sea connects to an open ocean: the Atlantic, through a narrow gateway, the Gibraltar Strait, which is only 14 km wide.Many studies focused on the geology, tectonic and paleo/oceanography of the entire Mediterranean basin, but the history of its connections with the relict Tethyan basins at East and the Atlantic Ocean at West in the last 150.000 years, still presents some open questions.This project aims to investigate the Mediterranean connections in the last 150.000 years. It focuses to complete an on-going PhD Thesis dealing with the Eastern connection (thesis of G. Gennari) and to start the investigation of the Western connection, in line with the very recent discoveries made in the Alboran Sea - Gulf of Cadiz system in the last 7 years.In particular, an exploratory cruise of Research Vessel (R/V) Belgica in 2002 in the Gulf of Cadiz led to the discovery of cold-water carbonate mounds in water depths of 500-600 m, topping a cliff: the Pen Duick Escarpment. The sediments in the area are characterized by cold-water corals and alternating horizons of carbonate-enriched and - depleted horizons, strikingly similar to the cold-water carbonate mounds found along the North Atlantic margin (e.g., the Porcupine Basin). The discovery, in 2007, of similar features in Spanish and Moroccan territorial waters in the Alboran Sea in the Western Mediterranean, opened a new research round of these peculiar structures with particular emphasis to the Alboran-Cadiz system.We propose here to study at high resolution Cores MD08-3227 and MD08-3216G recovered on the Pen-Duick Escarpement in the Gulf of Cadiz, during the cruise of the R/V Marion Dufresne in July 2008. The goal of this cruise was to preliminary drill the upper 30 meters of sediments at the sites that will be the target of the IODP Expedition proposed in Full-Proposal 673 submitted in October 2008 and of which the project PI is co-proponent. For comparison, in this project, we ask for ship time in a joint effort with the Universities of Granada (Spain) and Aveiro (Portugal) to obtain a similar record from the Alboran Field discovered in 2007 and preliminary sampled by gravity coring on the “BigOne Mound” in June 2008 during the cruise SAGAS08 (Training Through Research - TTR-17 Leg 1).We plan to use the response of benthic and planktonic foraminifera to paleoenvironmental changes, the isotopic signature of foraminiferal tests and the chemistry of the sediments (phosphorus and organic carbon content) to compare the cold-water carbonate systems in the Gulf of Cadiz and in the Alboran Sea in the time frame provided by AMS14C dating, bio- and isotope- stratigraphy. The research will be carried out with the collaboration of leading European Institutions such as the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) in Texel and the Renard Centre of Marine Geology (RCMG) in Ghent, which will provide equipments and training of the PhD student on the very newly developed techniques for paleoceanographic investigations (e.g., the TEX86 molecular paleotemperature proxy and the BIT-Index for flux of organic matter from land to sea). Our aim is to obtain a multiproxy paleoceanographic scenario by achieving the following objectives:1. Reconstruction of the history of the Mediterranean Western connections with the Atlantic Ocean (Alboran-Cadiz system) and carbonate mounds development in the last 150.000 years.2. Identification of the possible relation between carbonate mounds development and environmental and climate changes.3. Comparison of the records from the Alboran Sea and the Gulf of Cadiz to identify the global and local factors determining similarities and differences between them.4. Establishment of a causal link between carbonate mounds and adjacent sediments. 5. Testing the hypothesis that proposes the Alboran-Cadiz gateway as an associated system.6. To provide the tools to develop further paleoceanographic studies in view of the planned IODP Expedition.This project also benefits of the collaboration of all members of the COCARDE Initiative aimed to foster the transfer of knowledge from university laboratories to industry and vice-versa and to encourage and stimulate the interest of the young generation to study cold-water carbonates.Dissemination plan: Within the project we plan to present our results to many local and international meetings, to submit a significant number of scientific publications to peer reviewed journals, and to collaborate in the compilation of Special Volumes and Books together with our collaborators and colleagues. Additionally, the research planned in this project will be the framework on which the international community involved in IODP (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program) will build upon to schedule the IODP Expedition stemming from Full-Proposal 673, submitted in October 2008.
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