System Series Stage Age (Ma)
Quaternary Pleistocene Gelasian younger
Neogene Pliocene Piacenzian 2.588–3.600
Zanclean 3.600–5.332
Miocene Messinian 5.332–7.246
Tortonian 7.246–11.608
Serravallian 11.608–13.65
Langhian 13.65–15.97
Burdigalian 15.97–20.43
Aquitanian 20.43–23.03
Paleogene Oligocene Chattian older
Subdivision of the Neogene Period according to the IUGS, as of July 2009.

The Messinian is in the geologic timescale the last age or uppermost stage of the Miocene. It spans the time between 7.246 ± 0.005 Ma and 5.332 ± 0.005 Ma (million years ago). It follows the Tortonian and is followed by the Zanclean, the first age of the Pliocene.

The Messinian overlaps the Turolian European Land Mammal Mega Zone (more precise MN 12 and 13) and the Pontian Central European Paratethys stage. It also overlaps the late Huayquerian and early Montehermosan South American Land Mammal Ages, and falls inside the more extensive Hemphillian North American Land Mammal Age.

During the Messinian, around 6 million years ago, the Messinian salinity crisis took place, which brought about repeated desiccations of the Mediterranean Sea.



Messinian gypsum and clay deposits in the Sorbas basin near Sorbas, southern Spain. Evaporite deposits of Messinian age are common throughout the Mediterranean.

The Messinian was introduced by Swiss stratigrapher Karl Mayer-Eymar in 1867. Its name comes from the Italian city of Messina on Sicily, where the Messinian evaporite deposit is of the same age.

The base of the Messinian is at the first appearance of the planktonic foram species Globorotalia conomiozea and is stratigraphically in the middle of magnetic chronozone C3Br.1r. The GSSP for the Messinian is located in a section at Oued Akrech, near the Moroccan capital Rabat.[1]

The top of the Messinian (the base of the Zanclean stage and Pliocene series) lies with the top of magnetic chronozone Cr3 (about 100.000 years before the Thvera normal subchronozone C3n.4n). The base is also close to the extinction level of the calcareous nanoplankton species Triquetrorhabdulus rugosus (the base of biozone CN10b) and the first appearance of nannoplankton Ceratolithus acutus.



  1. ^ This GSSP was established by Hilgen et al. (2000)


  • Gradstein, F.M.; J.G. Ogg & A.G. Smith (2004). A Geologic Time Scale 2004. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Hilgen, F.J.; S. Iaccarino, W. Krijgsman, G. Villa, C.G. Langereis and W.J. Zachariasse (2000). The Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Messinian Stage (uppermost Miocene). pp. 172–178. 
  • Hsü, K.J. (1983). The Mediterranean Was a Desert. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 
  • Mayer-Eymar, Karl (in French). Catalogue systématique et descriptif des fossiles des terrains tertiaires qui se trouvent du Musée fédéral de Zürich. Zürich. 

External links

Neogene Period
Miocene Pliocene
Aquitanian | Burdigalian
Langhian | Serravallian
Tortonian | Messinian
Zanclean | Piacenzian

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