During the Messinian, the sensitivity of the Mediterranean Basin to ecosystem perturbation was enhanced in response to the progressive restriction of water exchange with the Atlantic Ocean. The widespread deposition of organic-rich layers (i.e. sapropel) during the Messinian testifies the perturbation of the carbon and oxygen cycles; indeed, these sediments were deposited under conditions of oxygen starvation, presumably in response to a periodic deterioration of the thermohaline circulation strength. Disentangling the causes, the effect and magnitude of the thermohaline circulation weakening during the geological past is crucial for better constraining present and near-future deoxygenation dynamics in the Mediterranean region under the current climate warming. For this purpose, we investigate a Messinian sapropel-bearing succession cropping out at Monte dei Corvi (Ancona, central Italy) with mineralogical, petrographic, micropaleontological and stable Carbon and Oxygen isotopic analyses. We show that sapropel layers were deposited in response to an increase of the sea surface buoyancy, which hampered the thermohaline circulation and thus the oxygenation of bottom water, in turn affecting the bioturbating organisms. Within the lithological cycle, the recovery of an efficient thermohaline circulation is recorded by thin packstone layers underlying the marly limestone/marlstone, which record intense bottom currents. The marly limestone/marlstone accumulated during periods of intense primary productivity and organic carbon export to the sea bottom, which promoted bottom hypoxia but not organic matter preservation. We infer that these lithological changes resulted from variations in the Adriatic Deep Water formation system, controlled by precession-driven climatic and oceanographic changes. By integrating previously published Sea Surface Temperature (SST) with new isotopic and mineralogical data, we show that variations in Sea Surface Salinity (SSS) were the leading factor controlling sapropel deposition, minimizing the role of primary productivity. The SSTs characterizing the sapropel deposits are close to the range of those projected in the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of this century under climate warming. In this scenario, future warming will be coupled with SSS increase, which will counteract the density loss provided by temperature, making the bottom deoxygenation in the Eastern Mediterranean abysses unlikely. However, additional forcing, such as winter heat waves and eutrophication, could contribute to negatively affecting the Mediterranean oxygen balance and should be considered in model-based projections.

Sensitivity of the thermohaline circulation during the Messinian: Toward constraining the dynamics of Mediterranean deoxygenation / Mancini, A. M.; Gennari, R.; Lozar, F.; Natalicchio, M.; Della Porta, G.; Bernasconi, D.; Pellegrino, L.; Dela Pierre, F.; Martire, L.; Negri, A.. - In: DEEP-SEA RESEARCH PART I-OCEANOGRAPHIC RESEARCH PAPERS. - ISSN 0967-0637. - STAMPA. - 203:(2024), pp. 1-13. [10.1016/j.dsr.2023.104217]

Sensitivity of the thermohaline circulation during the Messinian: Toward constraining the dynamics of Mediterranean deoxygenation

A. Negri
2024-01-01

Abstract

During the Messinian, the sensitivity of the Mediterranean Basin to ecosystem perturbation was enhanced in response to the progressive restriction of water exchange with the Atlantic Ocean. The widespread deposition of organic-rich layers (i.e. sapropel) during the Messinian testifies the perturbation of the carbon and oxygen cycles; indeed, these sediments were deposited under conditions of oxygen starvation, presumably in response to a periodic deterioration of the thermohaline circulation strength. Disentangling the causes, the effect and magnitude of the thermohaline circulation weakening during the geological past is crucial for better constraining present and near-future deoxygenation dynamics in the Mediterranean region under the current climate warming. For this purpose, we investigate a Messinian sapropel-bearing succession cropping out at Monte dei Corvi (Ancona, central Italy) with mineralogical, petrographic, micropaleontological and stable Carbon and Oxygen isotopic analyses. We show that sapropel layers were deposited in response to an increase of the sea surface buoyancy, which hampered the thermohaline circulation and thus the oxygenation of bottom water, in turn affecting the bioturbating organisms. Within the lithological cycle, the recovery of an efficient thermohaline circulation is recorded by thin packstone layers underlying the marly limestone/marlstone, which record intense bottom currents. The marly limestone/marlstone accumulated during periods of intense primary productivity and organic carbon export to the sea bottom, which promoted bottom hypoxia but not organic matter preservation. We infer that these lithological changes resulted from variations in the Adriatic Deep Water formation system, controlled by precession-driven climatic and oceanographic changes. By integrating previously published Sea Surface Temperature (SST) with new isotopic and mineralogical data, we show that variations in Sea Surface Salinity (SSS) were the leading factor controlling sapropel deposition, minimizing the role of primary productivity. The SSTs characterizing the sapropel deposits are close to the range of those projected in the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of this century under climate warming. In this scenario, future warming will be coupled with SSS increase, which will counteract the density loss provided by temperature, making the bottom deoxygenation in the Eastern Mediterranean abysses unlikely. However, additional forcing, such as winter heat waves and eutrophication, could contribute to negatively affecting the Mediterranean oxygen balance and should be considered in model-based projections.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Mancini_Sensitivity_of_the_thermohaline_2024.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione editoriale (versione pubblicata con il layout dell'editore)
Licenza d'uso: Creative commons
Dimensione 1.7 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.7 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11566/325652
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact