The last reconnection of the Marmara Sea (Turkey) to the World Ocean: A paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic perspective

Cecilia M.G. McHugh, Damayanti Gurung, Liviu Giosan, William B.F. Ryan, Yossi Mart, Ummuhan Sancar, Lloyd Burckle, M. Namik Çagatay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the late glacial, marine isotope Stage 2, the Marmara Sea transformed into a brackish lake as global sea-level fell below the sill in the Dardanelles Strait. A record of the basin's reconnection to the global ocean is preserved in its sediments permitting the extraction of the paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic history of the region. The goal of this study is to develop a high-resolution record of the lacustrine to marine transition of Marmara Sea in order to reconstruct regional and global climatic events at a millennial scale. For this purpose, we mapped the paleoshorelines of Marmara Sea along the northern, eastern, and southern shelves at Çekmece, Prince Islands, and Imrali, using data from multibeam bathymetry, high-resolution subbottom profiling (chirp) and ten sediment cores. Detailed sedimentologic, biostratigraphic (foraminifers, mollusk, diatoms), X-ray fluorescence geochemical scanning, and oxygen and carbon stable isotope analyses correlated to a calibrated radiocarbon chronology provided evidence for cold and dry conditions prior to 15 ka BP, warm conditions of the Bolling-Allerod from ∼ 15 to 13 ka BP, a rapid marine incursion at 12 ka BP, still stand of Marmara Sea and sediment reworking of the paleoshorelines during the Younger Dryas at ∼ 11.5 to 10.5 ka BP, and development of strong stratification and influx of nutrients as Black Sea waters spilled into Marmara Sea at 9.2 ka BP. Stable environmental conditions developed in Marmara Sea after 6.0 ka BP as sea-level reached its present shoreline and the basin floors filled with sediments achieving their present configuration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-82
Number of pages19
JournalMarine Geology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 18 Sep 2008


  • Black Sea
  • Marmara Sea
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • late Pleistocene-Holocene
  • paleoshorelines
  • sea-level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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