Calcareous Nannofossil Size and Abundance Response to the Messinian Salinity Crisis Onset and Paleoenvironmental Dynamics

A. M. Mancini*, M. Grelaud, P. Ziveri, E. Nallino, F. Lozar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Dwarfism is a common feature affecting organisms across extreme events that characterized the Earth history, frequently referred as the result of “stressed conditions.” To date, no study addressed the morphological and biometric changes across the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), one of the most recent and impacting event occurred in the Mediterranean Sea, historically interpreted as characterized by hypersaline conditions. Here we focus on morpho/biometric changes affecting calcareous nannofossils (CN) toward the MSC onset in order to better constrain the paleoenvironmental dynamics and the loosely defined “stressed conditions” characterizing this interval. Size characterization and absolute abundance of selected CN taxa were performed in the Perales (Spain, Western Mediterranean) and in the Banengo and Pollenzo sections (Italy, Northern Mediterranean). We also tested whether size changes and orbital cyclicity were related through analyzing size and calcite mass of Reticulofenestra minuta using an automated image analysis system of CN recognition (SYRACO). We recorded a significant size reduction affecting the CN taxa involved in the MSC onset bioevent, related to the restriction of the Mediterranean Basin that resulted in increased productivity and enhanced environmental variability, stimulating CN growth rate and decreasing their platelet sizes. Reticulofenestra minuta size and mass correlate with the orbital cyclicity with minimum values during periods of enhanced environmental variability, coinciding with the diatomite deposition in the Sorbas Basin. Our finding reveals that the size change recorded across the MSC onset coincided with the instauration of a productive and highly variable environment, linked to the restriction of the paleo Gibraltar Strait.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020PA004155
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2021


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