The evaporites of the Realmonte salt mine (Sicily, Italy) are important archives recording the most extreme conditions of the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC). However, geochemical approach on these evaporitic sequences is scarce and little is known on the response of the biological community to drastically elevating salinity. In the present work, we investigated the depositional environments and the biological community of the shale–anhydrite–halite triplets and the K–Mg salt layer deposited during the peak of the MSC. Both hopanes and steranes are detected in the shale–anhydrite–halite triplets, suggesting the presence of eukaryotes and bacteria throughout their deposition. The K–Mg salt layer is composed of primary halites, diagenetic leonite, and primary and/or secondary kainite, which are interpreted to have precipitated from density-stratified water column with the halite-precipitating brine at the surface and the brine-precipitating K–Mg salts at the bottom. The presence of hopanes and a trace amount of steranes implicates that eukaryotes and bacteria were able to survive in the surface halite-precipitating brine even during the most extreme condition of the MSC. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
Biomarker records and mineral compositions of the Messinian halite and K–Mg salts from Sicily / Isaji, Y.; Yoshimura, T.; Kuroda, J.; Tamenori, Y.; Jimenez-Espejo, F. J.; Lugli, S.; Manzi, V.; Roveri, M.; Kawahata, H.; Ohkouchi, N.. - In: PROGRESS IN EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE. - ISSN 2197-4284. - 6:1(2019). [10.1186/s40645-019-0306-x]