The Zanclean flood (also known as "Zanclean Deluge") is a flood theorized to have refilled the Mediterranean Sea 5.33 million years ago. This flooding ended the Messinian salinity crisis and marks the beginning of the Zanclean age. The term was coined by Maria Bianca Cita in 1972 during the Deep Sea Drilling Project study that investigated the transition between the Messinian and Zanclean ages in the Mediterranean.
According to this model, water from the Atlantic Ocean refilled the cut-off inland seas through the modern-day Gibraltar Strait. The Mediterranean Basin flooded over a period estimated between several months and two years (e.g. Roveri et al., 2008). Sea level rise in the basin may have reached rates at times greater than ten metres per day (e.g. Garcia-Castellanos et al., 2009). Based on the erosion features preserved until today under the Pliocene sediment, these authors estimate that water rushed down a drop of more than a kilometer with a discharge of up to 108 m3/s, about 1000 times that of the present day Amazon River. Studies of the underground structures at the Gibraltar Strait show that the flooding channel descended in a rather gradual way toward the bottom of the basin rather than forming a steep waterfall.
Not all scientific studies agree with the catastrophistic interpretation of this event. Many authors maintain that the reinstallment of a "normal" Mediterranean Sea basin following the Messinian "Lago Mare" episode took place in a much more gradual way.
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- Garcia-Castellanos, D., Estrada, F., Jiménez-Munt, I., Gorini, C., Fernàndez, M., Vergés, J., De Vicente, R. (10 Dec 2009) Catastrophic flood of the Mediterranean after the Messinian salinity crisis, Nature 462, pp. 778–781, doi:10.1038/nature08555
- M. Roveri et al. (2008). "A high-resolution stratigraphic framework for the latest Messinian events in the Mediterranean area". Stratigraphy 5 (3-4): 323–342.
- Media related to Messinian salinity crisis at Wikimedia Commons
- Gill, Victoria (9 December 2009). "Ancient Mediterranean flood mystery solved". BBC News. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Dramatic flood filled Mediterranean Sea". World News Australia/Agence France-Presse. 10 December 2009. Retrieved December 2010.