People at Fort Hoofddijk

Esther van Assen
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Mrs. E. van Assen
PhD 2000-2002

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Research of Esther van Assen

Late Miocene evolution of the 
Mediterranean - Atlantic Gateways
The Messinian Salinity Crisis makes an eminently valid case history to study the role of marine gateways on circulation and sedimentation patterns. 
During this period, the Mediterranean - Atlantic gateways became restricted, were closed, and re-opened again. 

Inevitably, this caused major changes in paleocirculation and thus in depositional environment in the Mediterranean. The advent of astronomically calibrated Messinian sequences in both the Mediterranean Basin and Atlantic margin, as well as numerical modelling studies on Mediterranean circulation patterns, form a timely prerequisite for a detailed study of the marine gateways of the Messinian.

We aim at unraveling the temporal and spatial history of the Mediterranean - Atlantic gateways during the late Miocene. 

Firstly, we establish high-resolution time frames for the sedimentary sequences of the gateway basins with special emphasis on the timing of their restriction and closure. 

Secondly, we establish paleogeographic reconstructions which will aid in decyphering the closure mechanism. The results will be fundamental input parameters for the numerical modelling studies, and we expect that they will help solving the controversies over the cause and mechanism of the Messinian Salinity Crisis as well as over the geodynamic history of the Gibraltar arc system.

publications Publications of Esther van Assen
  • Van Assen, E., Kuiper, K.F., Krijgsman, W., Sierro, F.J. and Barhoun, N. (2004). Messinian astrochronology of the Melilla Basin: stepwise restriction of the Mediterranean-Atlantic connection through Morocco,  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, in press.