When the Mediterranean was a Barren Salt Desert…

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About 6 million years ago, a mile-high field of salt formed across the entire Mediterranean seafloor, sucking up 6 percent of the oceans’ salt.

[T]he Strait of Gibraltar linking the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean was closed and instead, two channels — one in Northern Morocco and another in Southern Spain — fed the sea with salty water and let it flow out, said study co-author Rachel Flecker, a geologist at the University of Bristol in England.

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[D]uring the Messinian Salinity Crisis, as this particular event is known, Eurasia was colliding with Africa, squishing the outlet flow for the Mediterranean Sea.

But tectonic shifts left the basin floor below the outlet channel between the two water bodies intact. Dense salty water from the Atlantic rushed in, but couldn’t leave the sea. Water evaporated; salt piled high; and sea life collapsed.

One of the reasons this particular story caught my eye is that it represents the science behind one of my favorite low fantasy series of years past, The Gandalara Cycle, which uses the dry Mediterranean in the Earth’s geological past as a starting premise.

Via Discovery News for the full article.

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About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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