Around 5.6 million years ago tectonic movements and a drop in sea level cut the Mediterranean out of the worlds' oceans. For 300 million years our sea dried up almost everywhere, in what is called the Messinian salinity crisis.
The water then returned: what started like a trickle, later became an event of biblical proportions which filled the Mediterranean in under two years. At peak times, the sea level rose by up to ten meters a day - the largest known flood in Earth's history.
Daniel Garcia-Castellanos of the Jaume Almera Institute of Earth Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues, who published their work on Nature, estimate the peak flow to have been around 1000 times higher than the present Amazon river at its highest rate.
Eleonora de Sabata
For more information:
- Catastrophic flood of the Mediterranean after the Messinian salinity crisis
- Castellano's page