People at Fort Hoofddijk

Christiaan van Baak
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C.G.C. van Baak, MSc
Paleomagnetic Laboratory
Fort Hoofddijk
Department of Earth Sciences
Utrecht University 
Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD Utrecht 
The Netherlands 

Phone +31 30 253 5418



Research of Chris van Baak

The demise of Paratethys during the late Miocene to Pleistocene 

Paratethys was a large epicontinental sea, stretching from Germany to China at the beginning of the Oligocene, that progressively retreated by a complex combination of basin infill, glacio-eustatic sea-level lowering and tectonic uplift to its present-day remnants: Black Sea, Caspian Sea and Aral Lake.
This project will use high-resolution geochronology together with integrated stratigraphy and paleomagnetism to unravel internal (geodynamics, tectonic uplift) from external (climate, glacio-eustatic sea-level change) forcing factors and to resolve the effects of Paratethys restriction (regional climate perturbations, biotic crises, aridification). 
Creating a reliable magnetostratigraphy for key sections in Azerbaijan, was a first step.We found there that the boundary between uppermost Productive Series and the Akchagylian regional stages, as observed in the Lokbatan section, has in the most likely scenario an age of 2.5 Ma, which is radically different from the existing age. The younger regional stages, the Apsheronian and the Bakunian, yield ages for their lower boundaries of older than 1.8 Ma, and 0.88 Ma, respectively.
 (see also Chris' MSc research
Click for full overview of time scales ...
Some time scales in the Paratethys ... click for more.
In this project, we will focus on the late Miocene to Pleistocene when progressive sea retreat and variations in interbasinal connectivity generated extreme environmental changes in the Paratethys domain:
  • Marine flooding at the Maeotian-Pontian boundary (6 Ma), resulting in increased Mediterranean-Paratethys connectivity, followed by desiccation features during the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) interval (5.6-5.3 Ma) 
  • The isolation of the Caspian basin, transforming open marine environments into lacustrine deltaic systems, and leading to alternating phases of desiccation and flooding.
  • Glacio-marine transgressions in the Pleistocene, suggesting temporary connections between Paratethys and Arctic Ocean.
Sucma section, Azerbaijan
Late Miocene Paratethys and planned transects to be studied in this project
We will first establish a detailed chronologic framework for the Mio-Pliocene successions of the Black Sea and Caspian basins, which will consequently be used to unravel the tectonic and climatic changes that seriously affected the Eastern Paratethys region. Such multi-disciplinary approach is the only way to attain a comprehensive system view on Paratethys evolution.

Lokbatan section (Azerbaijan, near Baku)

publications Publications of Chris van Baak
  • Chang, L., Vasiliev, I.,  Van Baak, C.G.C., Krijgsman, W., Dekkers, M.J., Roberts, A.P. (2014). Identification and environmental interpretation of diagenetic and biogenic greigitein sediments: A lesson from the Messinian Black Sea, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15, 3612–3627.     
  • Reichenbacher, B., Krijgsman, W., Lataster, Y., Pippèrr, M., van Baak, C.G.C., Chang, L., Kälin, D., Jost, J., Doppler, G., Jung, D., Prieto, J., Abdul Aziz, H., Böhme, M., Garnish, J., Kirscher, U., Bachtadse, V. (2013). A new magnetostratigraphic framework for the Lower Miocene (Burdigalian / Ottnangian, Karpatian) in the North Alpine Foreland Basin. Swiss Journal of Geosciences 106, 309–334.   
  • Van Baak, C.G.C., Vasiliev, I., Stoica, M ., Kuiper, K.F., Forte, A.M., Aliyeva, E., Krijgsman, W. (2013). A magnetostratigraphic time frame for Plio-Pleistocene transgressions in the South Caspian Basin, Azerbaijan, Global and Planetary Change, 103, 119-134.