Prompt transgression and gradual salinisation of the Black Sea during the early Holocene constrained by amino acid racemization and radiocarbon dating
The restricted environment of the Black Sea is particularly sensitive to climatic and oceanographic fluctuations, owing to its connection with the Mediterranean Sea via the narrow Bosphorus Strait. The exact mechanism and timing of the most recent connection between these water bodies is controversial with debate on the post-glacial history of the Black Sea being dependent on radiocarbon dating for numerical ages. Here we present new 23 accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon ages on peat and bivalve molluscs, supported by the first amino acid racemization (AAR) dating of bivalve molluscs (n ¼ 66) in the Black Sea. These data indicate infilling of the Black Sea during the early Holocene from an initial depth 107m below sea-level, and 72 m below that of the Bosphorus Sill. These data combined with a review of previous radiocarbon ages has enabled a unique perspective on the post-glacial Black Sea. A sea-level curve based on conventional and AMS radiocarbon ages on peat and AMS-based ages on Dreissena sp. shells indicate the water-level in the earlier lake phase continued, until the early Holocene, to be lower than the Bosphorus Sill after the Younger Dryas ended. However, the absence of AMS-dated mollusc ages from the shelves of this basin older than the Younger Dryas is suggestive of sub-aerial exposure of the shelves, and comparatively lower water-levels when the Younger Dryas began. Thus post-glacial outflow from the Black Sea occurred through a lowered or open Bosphorus seaway. Basinwide radiocarbon ages on peat indicate a prompt increase in water-level from that of the pre-existing and unconnected palaeo-lake during the earliest Holocene (9600e9200 cal a BP). Mass colonisation of the Black Sea by Mediterranean taxa did not occur until salinity had risen sufficiently, a process which took 1000 a or more from the initial transgressive event. This gradual change in salinity contrasts with the prompt transgression which would have taken w400 a to occur.
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