The formation may have formed about 6 million years ago.
new Stady Accordingly, a huge underwater canyon was discovered in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea Live sciences. The formation may be about 6 million years old and may have formed at the beginning of the Messinian Salt Crisis.
During this period, the Strait of Gibraltar began to narrow and eventually close due to the movement of tectonic plates. The Mediterranean Sea was cut off from the Atlantic Ocean and dried up for about 700,000 years, leaving behind a massive salt cap, sometimes up to 3 kilometers thick.
As sea levels fell, increasing salt currents eroded the sea floor and carved a chasm hundreds of meters deep at the steeper edges of the Mediterranean. Experts now describe this as a U-shaped valley, 120 kilometers south of Cyprus, in the Levant Basin.
The formation, about 500 meters deep and 10 kilometers wide, was created shortly before the salt buildup.
The formation is named the Eratosthenes Valley after a nearby undersea mountain, and many canyons and channels have previously been discovered in the Levant Basin.
Streams laden with salt and sediment rushed faster than the surrounding waters and gradually washed away the huge valley from the sea floor. It is not yet clear exactly when this happened, but it may have coincided with the beginning of the Messinian Salt Crisis 5.6-6 million years ago.