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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 1
Clim. Past, 11, 1–13, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-11-1-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Clim. Past, 11, 1–13, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-11-1-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 05 Jan 2015

Research article | 05 Jan 2015

Thenardite after mirabilite deposits as a cool climate indicator in the geological record: lower Miocene of central Spain

M. J. Herrero1, J. I. Escavy1, and B. C. Schreiber2 M. J. Herrero et al.
  • 1Departamento de Petrología y Geoquímica, Fac. Ciencias Geológicas, Universidad Complutense Madrid,C/Jose Antonio Novais 2, 28040 Madrid, Spain
  • 2Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Abstract. Salt deposits are commonly used as indicators of different paleoclimates and sedimentary environments, as well as being geological resources of great economic interest. Ordinarily, the presence of salt deposits is related to warm and arid environmental conditions, but there are salts, like mirabilite, that form by cooling and a concentration mechanism based on cooling and/or freezing. The diagenetic transformation of mirabilite into thenardite in the upper part of the lower Miocene unit of the Tajo basin (Spain) resulted in the largest reserves of this important industrial mineral in Europe. This unit was formed in a time period (~18.4 Ma) that, in other basins of the Iberian Peninsula, is characterized by the existence of particular mammal assemblages appropriate to a relatively cool and arid climate. Determining the origin of the thenardite deposits as related to the diagenetic alteration of a pre-existing mirabilite permits the establishment and characterization of the sedimentary environment where it was formed and also suggests use as a possible analog with comparable deposits from extreme conditions such as Antarctica or Mars.

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Short summary
Thenardite deposits from the lower Miocene unit of the Tajo basin, Spain, result from a mirabilite diagenetic transformation salt that forms under cool climatic conditions. The time of the mirabilite formation correlates with a Mi cooling event coincident with mammal assemblages related to a relatively cool and arid climate in other basins of the Iberian Peninsula. This diagenetic transformation can be used as an analog with deposits from extreme conditions such as Antarctica or Mars.
Thenardite deposits from the lower Miocene unit of the Tajo basin, Spain, result from a...
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