The Marmara Sea Gateway since ∼16 ky BP: Non-catastrophic causes of paleoceanographic events in the Black Sea at 8.4 and 7.15 ky BP

Richard N. Hiscott, Ali E. Aksu, Peta J. Mudie, Michael A. Kaminski, Teofilo Abrajano, Doǧan Yaśar, André Rochon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The Late Quaternary history of connection of the Black Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean has been intensely debated. Ryan, Pitman and coworkers advocate two pulses of outflow from the Black Sea to the world ocean at ∼16-14.7 ky BP and ∼11-10 ky BP. From ∼14.7-11 ky BP and from ∼10-8.4 ky BP, they suggest that the level of the Black Sea fell to ∼-100 m. At 8.4 ky BP, they further claim that a catastrophic flood occurred in a geological instant, refilling the Black Sea wsiathli ne waters from the Mediterranean. In contrast, we continue to gather evidence from seismic profiles and dated cores in the Marmara Sea which demonstrate conclusively that the proposed flood did not occur. Instead, the Black Sea has been at or above the Bosphorus sill depth and flowing into the world ocean unabated since ∼10.5 ky BP. This conclusion is based on continuous Holocene water-column stratification (leading to sapropel deposition in the Marmara Sea and the Aegean Sea), proxy indicators of sea-surface salinity, and migration of endemic species across the Bosphorus in both directions whenever appropriate hydrographic conditions existed in the strait. The two pulses of outflow documented by Ryan, Pitman and coworkers find support in our data, and we have modified our earlier interpretations so thatht ese pulses now coincide with the development of mid-shelf deltas: δ2 (16-14.7 ky BP) and δ1 (10.5-9 ky BP) at the southern end of the Bosphorus Strait. However, continued Black Sea outflow after 9 ky BP prevented the northward advection of Mediterranean water and the entry of open-marine species into the Black Sea for more than 1000 years. Sufficient Mediterranean water to change the Sr-isotopic composition of slope and shelf water masses was not available until ∼8.4 ky BP (along with the first arrival of many varieties of marine fauna and flora), whereas euryhaline molluscs did not successfully populate the Black Sea shelves until ∼7.15 ky BP. Instead of relying on catastrophic events, we recognize a slow, progressive reconnection of the Black Sea to the world ocean, accompanied by significant time lags.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Black Sea Flood Question
Subtitle of host publicationChanges in Coastline, Climate, and Human Settlement
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)1402047746, 9781402047749
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Black Sea Flood Hypothesis
  • Bosphorus Strait
  • Marmara Sea Gateway
  • Outflow Hypothesis
  • climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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