IMMAGE: Investigating Miocene Mediterranean-Atlantic Gateway Exchange

during and after the Messinian Salinity Crisis

An amphibious drilling project focused on the Mediterranean-Atlantic gateway during the Late Miocene: The aim is to recover a complete record of Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange before, during and after the Messinian Salinity Crisis and to test physical oceanographic hypotheses for extreme high density overflow dynamics that do not exist in the world today on this scale. This will be achieved by targeting with IODP, off-shore sediments on either side of the present day gateway, Gibraltar, and with ICDP, recovering core from Gibraltar’s two precursor connections, the Rifian and Betic corridors which are now exposed on land in Morocco and Spain. By reconstructing exchange we can investigate the role of Mediterranean overflow during a period of significant palaeoclimatic change including the onset of northern hemisphere glaciation in the Late Miocene and explore the mechanisms for high amplitude environmental change in the Mediterranean. In addition, we will pioneer a new approach in research drilling where sites are explicitly identified to test hypotheses arising from physical oceanography modelling, in this instance the behaviour of oceanic overflows. This will achieve closer integration of physical and palaeo- oceanography research than has previously been possible and will allow us to evaluate the role of these key controls on thermohaline circulation. 

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