People at Fort Hoofddijk

Walter Capella
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W. Capella, MSc
Paleomagnetic Laboratory
Fort Hoofddijk
Department of Earth Sciences
Utrecht University 
Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD Utrecht 
The Netherlands 

Phone +31 30 253 1361


Research of Walter Capella

MEDGATE: Quantitative contraints on the palaeographic evolution of the betic-Riffian corridor from surface and subsurface data  
Marine gateways play a critical role in the exchange of  water,  heat,  salt  and nutrients  between oceans  and seas and hence impact regional and global climate. 
Today, Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange through the Gibraltar Strait dominates the mass and energy budgets of the Mediterranean Sea and is a major influence on North Atlantic circulation.
However, the current single marine corridor  at Gibraltar  is a relatively recent (5.3 Ma) phenomenon. It was preceded by a different configuration through gateways in southern Spain and northern Morocco (Fig. 1).
Changes in gateway geometry can significantly alter the pattern of ocean circulation and hence heat transport and climate. The advantage of studying ancient gateways that have since closed
rather than  their modern counterparts is that  the ancient gateway  sediments  record the full process of closure.  However, most fossil gateways exposed on land owe their current location to tectonic compression and uplift.  This necessarily results in erosion of the sediments and dislocation of the original gateway.

Fig. 1. Map of the pre-Gibraltar Atlantic-Mediterranean
gateways 5-10 million years ago and the location of the sections to be used in Medgate

Any model-based assessment of the impact of Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange requires quantitative constraints on the width and depth of the connecting channels and the flow velocity. Such constraints can be derived from a variety of different geological features. These data will be complemented by the study of subsurface information from seismic and borehole data, in this case for the Moroccan corridor.

This project requires Walter to undertake substantial fieldwork and a wide range of sedimentological, structural, micropalaeontological and seismic techniques to reconstruct the palaeogeographic evolution of the gateways and generate quantitative estimates of gateway geometry.

publicationsPublications of Walter Capella
  • Capella, W., Matenco, L., Dmitrieva, E., Roest, W.M.J., Hessels, S., Hssain, M., Chakor-Alami, A., Sierro, F.J., Krijgsman, W. (2017). Thick-skinned tectonics closing the Rifian Corridor, Tectonophysics, in press  
  • Flecker, R., Krijgsman, W., Capella, W., de Castro Martíns, C., Dmitrieva, E., Mayser, J.P., Marzocchi, A., Modestu, S., Lozano, D.O., Simon, D., Tulbure, M., van den Berg, B., van der Schee, M., de Lange, G., Ellam, R., Govers, R., Gutjahr, M., Hilgen, F., Kouwenhoven, T., Lofi, J., Meijer, P., Sierro, F.J., Bachiri, N., Barhoun, N., Alami, A.C., Chacon, B., Flores, Jose A., Gregory, J., Howard, J., Lunt, D., Ochoa, M., Pancost, R., Vincent, S., Yousfi, M.Z. (2015). Evolution of the Late Miocene MediterraneanAtlantic gateways and their impact on regional and globalenvironmental change, Earth Science Reviews, 150, 365-392.