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Mediterranean Sea filled in less than two years: Study

Last Updated: Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 09:26

Paris: The Mediterranean Sea was mostly filled in less than two years in a dramatic flood around 5.33 million years ago in which water poured in from the Atlantic, according to a study published Wednesday.

Sea water flooded in through the Strait of Gibraltar at a rate three times the current flow of the Amazon River, said the report publish by the scientific journal Nature.

About 5.6 million years ago the Mediterranean Sea had became disconnected from the world`s oceans and mostly dried up by evaporation with its largely saline surface between 1,500 and 2,700 metres below sea level, the study said.

"The Atlantic waters found a way through the present Gibraltar Strait and rapidly refilled the Mediterranean 5.33 million years ago in an event known as the Zanclean flood," it said.

"Although the flood started at low water discharges that may have lasted for up to several thousand years, our results suggest that 90 percent of the water was transferred in a short period ranging from a few months to two years."

Previous studies have suggested that it could have taken between 10 and several thousands of years to fill the Mediterranean, according to the depth of the Gilbraltar strait.
Scientists led by Daniel Garcia-Castellanos from Barcelona`s Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera used borehole and seismic data to reveal a 200-kilometre-long (125-mile) channel across the Gibraltar strait that was carved out by the floodwaters, Nature said.
They used an incision model to estimate the duration of the flood and reach their conclusions.


First Published: Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 09:26
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