The end of the Great Khersonian Drying of Eurasia: Magnetostratigraphic dating of the Maeotian transgression in the Eastern Paratethys
D. Valentin Palcu, I. Vasiliev, M. Stoica and W. Krijgsman
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 31, No 1, February 2019 pp. 33 - 58
Info: Article, PDF ( 18.23Mb )
Central Eurasia underwent significant palaeoclimatic and palaeogeographic transformations during the middle to late Miocene. The open marine ecosystems of the Langhian and Serravallian seas progressively collapsed and were replaced in the Tortonian by large endorheic lakes. These lakes experienced major fluctuations in water level, directly reflecting the palaeoclimatic conditions of the region. An extreme lowstand of the Eastern Paratethys lake (−300 m) during the regional Khersonian stage reveals a period of intensely dry conditions in Central Eurasia causing a fragmentation of the Paratethys region. This period of “Great Drying” ended by a climate change towards more humid conditions at the base of the Maeotian stage, resulting in a large transgressive event that reconnected most of the Paratethyan basins. The absence of a robust time frame for the Khersonian–Maeotian interval hampers a direct correlation with the global records and complicates a thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Here we present a new chronostratigraphic framework for the Khersonian and Maeotian deposits of the Dacian Basin of Romania, based on integrated magneto‐biostratigraphic studies on long and continuous sedimentary successions. We show the dry climate conditions in the Khersonian start at 8.6–8.4 Ma. The Khersonian/Maeotian transition is dated at 7.65–7.5 Ma, several million years younger than previous estimates. The Maeotian transgression occurs later (7.5–7.4 Ma) in more marginal and shallower basins, in agreement with the time transgressive character of the flooding. In addition, we date a sudden water level drop of the Eastern Paratethys lake, the Intra‐Maeotian Event (IME), at 6.9 Ma, and hypothesize that this corresponds to a reconnection phase with the Aegean basin of the Mediterranean. Finally, we discuss the potential mechanisms explaining the particularities of the Maeotian transgression and conclude that the low salinity and the seemingly “marine influxes” most likely correspond to episodes of intrabasinal mixing in a gradual and pulsating transgressive setting.