Decades of seabed mapping, reflection profiling, and seabed sampling reveal that throughout the past two million years the Black Sea was predominantly a freshwater lake interrupted only briefly by saltwater invasions coincident with global sea level highstand. When the exterior ocean lay below the relatively shallow sill of the Bosporus outlet, the Black Sea operated in two modes. As in the neighboring Caspian Sea, a cold climate mode corresponded with an expanded lake and a warm climate mode with a shrunken lake. Thus, during much of the cold glacial Quaternary, the expanded Black Sea's lake spilled into to the Marmara Sea and from there to the Mediterranean. However, in the warm climate mode, after receiving a vast volume of ice sheet meltwater, the shoreline of the shrinking lake contracted to the outer shelf and on a few occasions even beyond the shelf edge. If the confluence of a falling interior lake and a rising global ocean persisted to the moment when the rising ocean penetrated across the dividing sill, it would set the stage for catastrophic flooding. Although recently challenged, the flood hypothesis for the connecting event best fits the full set of observations.
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