Israel - Cyprus - Malta - Maldives

The closure of the Mesopotamian marine gateway during the Miocene

The proposed study aims to reconstruct the paleoceanographic settings of the east Mediterranean during the middle Miocene closure of its eastern gateway, which is a key interval for the understanding of the global Cenozoic climate evolution. A common research effort is aimed to link data from key locations recording the oceanographic evolution during the restriction and closure of the connection between both oceans. The first strong foundation for the proposed research is laid through the participation of two scientists of the cooperating universities (Haifa and Hamburg) at Expedition 359 to the Maldives under the umbrella of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and which took place from October - November 2015. The recovered cores during this expedition provide the first comprehensive overview of the paleoceanographic evolution in the Central Indian Ocean before, during and after the rupture of the connection.

The Maldives will form the southern stepping-stone of a latitudinal transect crossing the extinct Mediterranean Sea-Indian Ocean connection, which includes key sections from the Eratosthenes seamount (ODP site 160), and continuous outcrop sequences in Israel Cyprus, and Malta. Amalgamation of the sedimentological, petrophysical and geochemical (both radiogenic and stable) data resulting from all the mentioned sites will provide a comprehensive overview that allows calculating the extent, magnitude and impact the eastern gateway closure had on ocean circulation and associated climate change.

The current project is funded by GIF. Group leaders: Prof. Martin Frank (GEOMAR, Kiel), Prof. Christian Betzler (University of Hamburg) and Dr. Nicolas Waldmann (University of Haifa).