Freshening of the Marmara Sea prior to its post-glacial reconnection to the Mediterranean Sea

TitleFreshening of the Marmara Sea prior to its post-glacial reconnection to the Mediterranean Sea
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsAloisi, G, Soulet, G, Henry, P, Wallmann, K, Sauvestre, R, Vallet-Coulomb, C, Lecuyer, C, Bard, E
Date PublishedMAR 1
Type of ArticleArticle
KeywordsBlack Sea outflow, Last glacial maximum, Marmara Lake, pore water isotope composition

During the last glaciation the Marmara Sea was isolated from the Mediterranean Sea because global sea level was below the depth of the Dardanelles sill. Prior to the postglacial reconnection to the Mediterranean Sea (similar to 14.7 cal kyr BP), the surface waters of the Marmara Sea were brackish (Marmara Lake). Freshening of a previously saline Marmara Sea could have happened via spill-out of brackish to fresh water from the surface water of the Black Sea through the Bosphorus Strait. This hypothesis has not been tested against alternative possibilities (salt flushing by river run-off and precipitation). Here we use the dissolved Cl- and stable isotope composition (delta O-18 and delta D) of Marmara Sea sediment pore water to estimate the salinity and stable isotope composition of Marmara Lake bottom water and to evaluate possible freshening scenarios. We use a transport model to simulate pore water Cl-, delta O-18 and delta D in Marmara Sea sediments in the past 130 kyr, which includes the last interglacial (130-75 cal kyr BP), the last glacial (75-14 cal kyr BP) and the current postglacial period. Our results show that the bottom waters of the Marmara Lake were brackish (similar to 4 parts per thousand salinity) and isotopically depleted (delta O-18 similar to -10.2 parts per thousand and delta D similar to -70 parts per thousand, respectively) compared to modern seawater. Their salinity and stable isotope ratios show that they are a mixture of Mediterranean waters and Danube-like waters implying that the freshening took place via spill-out of freshwater through the Bosphorus. Our modelling approach indicates that the transit of fresh water from glacial Eurasia to the Mediterranean via the Marmara Sea started at least 50 cal kyr BP, was continuous throughout most of the last glaciation and persisted up to the post glacial reconnection to the Mediterranean through the Dardanelles sill (14.7 cal kyr BP). These results are consistent with previously published micropaleontological and geochemical investigations of sediment cores that indicate lacustrine conditions in the Marmara Sea from about 75 to 14.7 cal kyr BP. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.