Geological Institute of Israel Discovers Underwater Canyon near Cyprus

  • 08 Feb 2024

Recently, the Geological Institute of Israel has revealed the existence of a previously unknown underwater canyon near Cyprus, named Eratosthenes, after the nearby underwater mountain, dating back to the Messinian Event approximately 5.5 million years ago.

Key Points

  • Unveiling the Underwater Canyon: The recently discovered canyon, Eratosthenes, situated near Cyprus, spans approximately 10 kilometers in width and plunges to depths of around 500 meters. It remained concealed since the commencement of the Messinian period, preceding the deposition of the salt layer.
  • Formation Mechanism: This submarine canyon originated during the Messinian era when the Mediterranean Sea experienced a reduction in its level concurrently with a surge in water salinity.
  • These conditions facilitated the formation of gravity currents or dense solutions, triggering the destabilization of submarine slopes and the subsidence of the seabed.
  • Environmental Implications: The findings shed light on the environmental conditions prevailing in the deep Mediterranean basin during the initial stages of the Messinian event, characterized by elevated salinity levels and diminished sea levels.
  • Messinian Salinity Crisis: The Messinian event, also referred to as the Messinian salinity crisis, denotes a geological phenomenon wherein the Mediterranean Sea underwent a series of fluctuations, leading to partial or near-complete desiccation.