Origins of the Mediterranean basin

In the Cainozoic age, the area of the Mediterranean sea was a huge ocean that slowly shrank into a few secondary basins. The main one then turned into the Mediterranean Sea. This was caused by the African and Eurasian continental plate moving closer to each other. The powerful thrusts coming from the south caused the sediments built up at the bottom of the ocean to raise, thus originating the mountain ridges of the Atlantis, the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Balkans and Asia minor. During the late Miocene, the ancient ocean became an internal sea, even if different from today’s Mediterranean sea. During the Pliocene, the Mediterranean Sea dried up. The geological phenomena associated with this period, such as the opening of huge fractures, volcanic activity, the raising of coastal areas, etc., prompted the formation of the ecological and geographical complexity of the Mediterranean region. This phase boosted the expansion of salt-resistant plants (Halophytes of the genera: Limonium, Salicornia, Arthrocnemum, Salsola, Artemisia) and the appearance of small and sparse species whose adaptability to particular conditions made them develop quickly. In the end, today’s Straits of Gibraltar broke up because of the earth’s crust moving, and the water of Atlantic sea flew into the Mediterranean basin. The current configuration of this basin came into being approximately five million years ago.

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