The Alboran volcanic-arc modulated the Messinian faunal exchange and salinity crisis
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Booth-Rea, G., Ranero, C. R., & Grevemeyer, I. (2018). The Alboran volcanic-arc modulated the Messinian faunal exchange and salinity crisis. Scientific reports, 8(1), 13015.
SponsorshipThis study was supported by research projects CGL2015-67130-C2-1-R and was part of the EUROMARGINS and TOPO-EUROPE initiatives of the EUROCORES Programme of the European Science Foundation (ESF). Efforts benefitted from funding of the German Science Foundation (DFG grants GR1964/12-1; RA 925/2-1+2-2 and RE 873/17-1).
What process triggered the Mediterranean Sea restriction remains debated since the discovery of the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC). Recent hypotheses infer that the MSC initiated after the closure of the Atlantic-Mediterranean Betic and Rifean corridors, being modulated through restriction at the Gibraltar Strait. These hypotheses however, do not integrate contemporaneous speciation patterns of the faunal exchange between Iberia and Africa and several geological features like the evaporite distribution. Exchange of terrestrial biota occurred before, during and after the MSC, and speciation models support an exchange path across the East Alborán basin (EAB) located a few hundreds of km east of the Gibraltar Strait. Yet, a structure explaining jointly geological and biological observations has remained undiscovered. We present new seismic data showing the velocity structure of a welldifferentiated 14–17-km thick volcanic arc in the EAB. Isostatic considerations support that the arccrust buoyancy created an archipelago leading to a filter bridge across the EAB. Sub-aerial erosional unconformities and onlap relationships support that the arc was active between ~10–6 Ma. Progressive arc build-up leading to an archipelago and its later subsidence can explain the extended exchange of terrestrial biota between Iberia and Africa (~7–3 Ma), and agrees with patterns of biota speciation and terrestrial fossil distribution before the MSC (10–6.2 Ma).