Mongelli, Giovanni and Mameli, Paola and Oggiano, Giacomo and Sinisi, Rosa (2012) Messinian palaeoclimate and palaeo-environment in the western Mediterranean realm: insights from the geochemistry of continental deposits of NW Sardinia (Italy). International Geology Review, Vol. 54 (8), p. 971-990. eISSN 1938-2839. Article.
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To evaluate the palaeo-environmental parameters of a portion of the Sardinia–Corsica microplate during the Messinian drop in sea level, we examined the chemistry and mineralogy of upper Tortonian–lower Messinian (late Miocene) clayey continental deposits from NW Sardinia. Differences exist between the uppermost part of the succession, which is devoid of carbonate phases, and the lower part, reflecting changes in provenance and climate. The carbonate-free samples were probably derived from quartzite of the metamorphic basement and were deposited under a climate characterized by alternating dry and relatively wet periods. The other samples were derived from basement phyllite and were deposited under a warm, dry climate that promoted the capillary rise of Ca2+ and bicarbonate from a shallow water table, and therefore, the precipitation of carbonate. This part of the succession contains both calcite and dolomite. The presence of barite indicates an important concentration of SO4 2− in the solution from which the CaMg(CO3)2 precipitated. The formation of dolomite under hypersaline conditions may be explained by bacterial degradation of organic matter, which produced CO2 and ammonia, thereby increasing the solution alkalinity. The succession formed in an oxic environment, except for a calcite-rich level that formed under relatively reducing conditions. For this level, the large amount of calcite and the lack of dolomite indicate an alkaline environment and a very low Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio in the soil solution. These observations, coupled with the reducing conditions, indicate the availability of large amounts of degraded organic matter, probably related to a period typified by a wetter climate.
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