Astrochronology for the Messinian Sorbas basin (SE Spain) and orbital (precessional) forcing for evaporite cyclicity
The Sorbas basin of SE Spain contains one of the most complete sedimentary successions of the Mediterranean reflecting the increasing salinity during the Messinian salinity crisis. A detailed cyclostratigraphic study of these successions allows a correlation of the sedimentary cycle patterns to astronomical target curves. Here, we present an astrochronological framework for the Messinian of the central part of the Sorbas basin. This framework will form a solid basis for high-resolution correlations to the marginal carbonate facies and to the Central Mediterranean area. The early Messinian Abad Member contains 55 precession induced sedimentary cycles marked by homogeneous marl-opal-rich bed alternations in the 'Lower Abad' and by homogeneous marl-sapropel alternations in the 'Upper Abad'. Astronomical tuning results in an age of 5.96 Ma for the transition to the Yesares evaporites and thus for the onset of the 'Messinian salinity crisis'. The marl-sapropel cycles of the 'Upper Abad' are replaced by gypsum-sapropel cycles (14) in the Yesares Member, indicating that the evaporite cyclicity is related to precession controlled oscillations in (circum) Mediterranean climate as well. As a consequence, gypsum beds correspond to precession maxima (insolation minima) and relatively dry climate, sapropelitic marls to precession minima (insolation maxima) and relatively wet climate. An alternative (glacio-eustatic) obliquity control for evaporite cyclicity can be excluded because the number of sedimentary cycles with a reversed polarity is too high. Sedimentation during the Abad, Yesares, and the overlying coastal sequences of the Sorbas Member, took place in a continuously marine environment, indicating that marine conditions in the Sorbas basin prevailed at least until 5.60-5.54 Ma. According to our scenario, deposition of the Yesares and Sorbas Member took place synchronously with deposition of the 'Lower Evaporites' in the Central Mediterranean. Finally, the continental Zorreras Member consists of 8 sedimentary cycles of alternating reddish silts (dry climate) and yellowish sands (wet climate) which correlates very well with the 'Upper Evaporites' and Lago Mare facies of the Mediterranean.