ABSTRACT: The analysis of the Messinian and Pliocene stratigraphy of the Bajo Segura Basin (a marginal basin of the westernMediterranean) has revealed three synthems deposited in a high sea-level context: T-MI (late Tortonian-Messinian), MII (Messinian), and P (early Pliocene), bounded by two lowstand erosional surfaces (intra-Messinian and end-Messinian unconformities).With respect to the salinity crisis, we propose the following series of events: 1) pre-evaporitic or pre-crisis phase (T-MI synthem); 2) first sea-level fall and subaerial exposure (intra-Messinian unconformity), possibly related to the precipitation of the Lower Evaporites; 3) syn-evaporitic phase (MII synthem), recorded both by selenitic gypsum (Upper Evaporites) as well as by lagoon deposits (Lago-Mare); 4) second sea-level fall and subaerial exposure (end-Messinian unconformity), characterized by deeply incised palaeovalleys; and 5) post-evaporitic or post-crisis phase (P synthem), which coincides with the definitive restoration of open marine conditions in the basin. A combined biostratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic study revealed that all the events linked to the salinity crisis (from the end of the pre-evaporitic phase to the beginning of the post-evaporitic phase) occurred within the chron C3r (c. 5.9-5.2 Ma).
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