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An integrated paleoceanographic-sedimentological study of the Cretan Sea, South Aegean Sea (Paleo Cretan Basin)
Start date: May 25, 2009, End date: May 24, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Changes in the ocean circulation and climate have been brought to the focus of research mainly during the last thirty years, due to their correlation to human activities. A dramatic hydrological change occurred during the last twenty years in the Eastern Mediterranean, where there has been a switch in the formation of new deep water from the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea. This is attributed to the increased salinity of the surface waters of the Mediterranean Sea due to river damming and decreased precipitation. The impact of this phenomenon in the hydrology and ecological system of the Eastern Mediterranean has puzzled the scientific community. The limitation of detailed hydrological data for the past 50 years does not allow numerical simulations to make any accurate long-term predictions, whereas conventional paleoceanographic studies fail to capture similar short-lived events of the past due to their low time resolution (~0.2-0.5 ky).We propose the integrated paleoceanographic-sedimentological study of a large set of sediment cores and ultra-high-resolution seismic-reflection profiles from the Cretan Basin, Aegean Sea. Petrographic, geochemical, paleontological, and isotope analysis in a few stratigraphic cores will result in the development of: 1) a preliminary paleoceanographic record, and 2) a detailed sediment/seismic stratigraphic scheme. Accurately dated sedimentary units in both, cores and seismic-reflection profiles will then be identified and mapped, and the response of sedimentological processes to climatic-hydrological changes will be determined. The depositional time of some sedimentary beds (e.g. turbidites and bottom-current deposits) ranges from hours to years. Thus, a reverse correlation of the identified sedimentary units to climatic-hydrological changes will lead to the formation of an ultra-high-resolution (tens of years) paleoceanographic record for the Cretan Sea, and by extrapolation for the entire Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

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