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Reconstructing Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange during the Miocene

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Marine gateway research and training

An interdisciplinary study to reconstruct exchange through Mediterranean-Atlantic gateway 5-10 million years ago has led to the development of a European Network to lead international ocean gateway research.

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Marine gateways play a critical role in the exchange of water, heat, salt and nutrients between oceans and seas. They have an important impact on both regional and global climate. In order to evaluate their influence on climate over time, ancient marine gateways are required. A prime example are the marine corridors that linked the Atlantic and Mediterranean prior to the formation of the Gibraltar Straits about 5 million years ago. These have been uplifted and are preserved on land in northern Morocco and southern Spain. Although much research has been done over the decades, the exact timing of closure of these corridors, their geometry, the pattern of exchange through them, and their impact on global climate remain uncertain. An EU-funded study MEDGATE (Reconstructing Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange during the Miocene) set out to reconstruct the evolution of these marine corridors. In order to do so, a training programme was set up to support a strongly collaborative research programme. MEDGATE trained 10 researchers in a wide variety of geological skills including field geology, biostratigraphic techniques, state-of-the-art geochemistry and numerical modelling. The training was effective in equipping its researchers for careers in both academia and industry. Researchers were involved in all aspects of the project including its management and the dissemination of results to a wide community of academic and industrial stakeholders and the public. As their skills and experience broadened, the researchers transitioned to leading the technical training in their specialist field. Both global and local consequences of Mediterranean-Atlantic exchange were evaluated and a new European multi-sector network was built to lead further international research initiatives in this area


Mediterranean-Atlantic gateway, MEDGATE, Miocene, geology, geochemistry, numerical modelling

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