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GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, JUNE 2007, 58, 3, 277—290


The thick Upper Miocene sedimentary formations of the
Central European Pannonian Basin System were deposited
in Lake Pannon, a large, deep, long-lived lake, and in the
adjacent fluvial environments. Chronostratigraphic subdi-
vision and correlation of the lacustrine sequence have
long posed problems, mostly because of the endemic biota
of the lake, the highly diachronous nature of facies units,
and the scarcity of reliable geochronometric data. The best
method to overcome these difficulties appears to be an in-
tegrated approach, that is a combination of all available
stratigraphic methods.

This study is based on the magnetic polarity records of

4 boreholes and 4 surface outcrops from the northwestern
part of the Pannonian Basin System. The Duka-II,
Nagylózs-1, Szombathely-II and Zsira-1 wells and out-
crops of Pezinok, Sopron, and Bérbaltavár (=Baltavár) are
located in the western and southern margins of the Kisal-
föld (“Little Hungarian Plain” or “Danube”) Basin in Hun-
gary and Slovakia, whereas the Hennersdorf outcrop is
located in the Vienna Basin, Austria (Fig. 1). The wells
were drilled during the 1980’s, when the Geological Insti-
tute of Hungary drilled a dozen deep, continuously cored
stratigraphic test holes in various parts of the Pannonian
Basin. The cores were studied for stratigraphy, sedimentol-
ogy, paleontology and magnetostratigraphy. The polarity
zones of the boreholes were correlated with the geomag-

Magnetostratigraphic, seismic and biostratigraphic

correlations of the Upper Miocene sediments in the

northwestern Pannonian Basin System










MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Plc., Budafoki út 79, 1117 Budapest, Hungary;;


Geological Institute of Hungary, Stefánia út 14, 1143 Budapest, Hungary;;

(Manuscript received March 30, 2006; accepted in revised form October 5, 2006)

Abstract: Magnetic polarity records from four wells and four surface outcrops from the non-marine Upper Miocene of
the northwestern Pannonian Basin System have been correlated with the polarity time scale. Correlation between the wells
(Duka-II, Nagylózs-1, Szombathely-II, and Zsira-1) was established by means of seven seismic horizons (A to G),
calibrated biostratigraphically in the boreholes. Interpretation of the seismic horizons was extended to about 8000 km


in northwestern Hungary. Correlation of the surface outcrops was based on biostratigraphy (Hennersdorf, Pezinok,
Sopron) or it was attempted by seismic stratigraphy (Bérbaltavár). Although the Hennersdorf, Sopron, and Pezinok
outcrops all belong to C5n (11.04 to 9.78 Ma), the first is biostratigraphically older than the latter ones. This correlation
implies that the MN10 rodents of the Pezinok outcrop are older than 9.7 Ma, the presently acknowledged MN9/MN10
boundary. The borehole sections in the western part of the Kisalföld (Danube) Basin (Nagylózs, Zsira, and Szombathely)
were correlated with Chrons C5r to C3B ( > 11 Ma to  > 7 Ma), whereas the Duka section in the southeastern part
corresponded to the interval C4Ar to C4r ( > 9 Ma to  > 8 Ma). The Bérbaltavár mammal locality probably correlates with
C4n (8.11 to 7.53 Ma). All these data combined with facies interpretation and seismic correlations suggest that the shelf
break of Lake Pannon swept across the Kisalföld Basin from NW to S-SE in less than 1 million year (ca. 9.7 to 8.8 Ma).

Key words: Late Miocene, Pannonian Basin, Danube Basin, Lake Pannon, magnetostratigraphy, biostratigraphy,
seismic stratigraphy.

netic time scale of Berggren et al. (1985, 1995), employ-
ing radiometric ages and results of litho- and biostratigra-
phy (Elston et al. 1990, 1994; Kókay et al. 1991; Lantos
et al. 1992; Lantos & Elston 1995; Juhász et al. 1999;
Magyar et al. 1999). Magnetostratigraphic correlations
were commonly anchored to the long normal polarity in-
terval of Chron C5n. No radiometric data were available in
stratigraphically higher parts of the sections; the age of
the younger strata was thus somewhat uncertain. In the
central part of the Pannonian Basin, the boreholes were
correlated by means of composite seismic profiles (Hor-
váth & Pogácsás 1988; Pogácsás et al. 1988, 1992, 1994),
and the results of magnetostratigraphic interpretations
were widely used in dating sequence stratigraphic surfaces
and sedimentary cycles (Csató 1993; Ujszászi & Vakarcs
1993; Vakarcs et al. 1994; Sacchi et al. 1995, 1999; Ju-
hász et al. 1996, 1997, 1999; Sprovieri & Sacchi 1999;
Korpás-Hódi et al. 2000; Sacchi & Horváth 2002;
Sprovieri et al. 2003; Sacchi & Müller 2004).

A recent interpretation of regional seismic horizons in

NW Hungary offered a new opportunity for systematic
seismic correlations between the magnetostratigraphic test
holes. The seismic time-lines, combined with biostrati-
graphic data, provided constraints for the correlation of
the polarity records with the geomagnetic polarity time
scale (ATNTS by Lourens et al. 2004). Thus, we propose
here an updated correlation of the Pannonian sediments in
the Duka-II, Nagylózs-1, Szombathely-II and Zsira-1 bore-

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holes, as well as in the outcrops of Hennersdorf, Pezinok,
Sopron, and Bérbaltavár (Fig. 1).

Geological setting

The Pannonian Basin is a complex Neogene basin sys-

tem bordered by the Carpathian Mountains, Alps, and Di-
narides. The general subsidence of the area started in the
Middle/Late Miocene. The resulting accommodation
space was filled by lacustrine, deltaic, and fluvial deposits
during the Late Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene. The
lacustrine deposits accumulated in Lake Pannon, a large
brackish lake. Transition to deltaic and fluvial sedimenta-
tion occurred gradually as the shoreline prograded basin-
ward from the northwestern and northeastern margins, and
resulted in highly diachronous facies (Juhász 1991; Mo-
lenaar et al. 1994).

The northwestern segment of the basin system compris-

es the Vienna Basin (Kováč et al. 2004; Harzhauser et al.
2004) and the Kisalföld or Danube Basin (Tari 1996; Mat-
tick et al. 1996; Hrušecký 1999; Kováč et al. 2006)
(Fig. 1). These depressions, lying close to the sediment
sources of the Alps and Carpathians, were among the first
to be filled up by siliciclastic sediments. The entire lacus-
trine, deltaic, and most of the fluvial facies in the Kis-
alföld Basin represent the Upper Miocene; the relatively
thin Pliocene and Pleistocene deposits are confined to the

central part of the basin. This pattern is partly due to a tec-
tonic inversion that occurred during the Pliocene (Horváth
et al. 1995). As a consequence of this inversion, the lit-
toral and shallow sublittoral facies zones of the Upper Mi-
ocene lacustrine deposits are exposed today along the
western and eastern margins of the Kisalföld Basin (Jám-
bor 1980; Magyar et al. 2000). The investigated outcrops
and drillings are located in such marginal positions
(Fig. 2), where a few tens to a few hundred m thick
Pliocene (and Quaternary?) succession is believed to have
been eroded (Jámbor 1980;  Lantos et al. 1992;  Dunkl &
Frisch 2002).

Description of the investigated boreholes and



Each borehole penetrated the usual tripartite litho- and

biofacies associations of the Upper Miocene. The fine-
grained Lake Pannon deposits (Peremarton Group) are
overlain by variable deltaic sediments, which in turn are
followed by purely fluvial and terrestrial deposits
(Dunántúl Group). The Peremarton Group consists of mud-
stone, marl, and silty clay, whereas the Dunántúl Group
consists of grey, fine-grained sand, silt, clay, siltstone,
clayey marl, and locally lignite. For details on lithology

Fig. 1. Digital terrain model of the NW Pannonian Basin System with locations of drill cores and outcrops where magnetostratigraphic
studies were performed. Inset map: A – Austria, SK – Slovakia, H – Hungary. The represented area is 150 100 km.

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of the individual sections, see the references. Biostrati-
graphic subdivision and correlation of the Upper Miocene
is based on endemic dinoflagellates (deep water facies),
endemic molluscs (deep lacustrine to littoral facies), and
mammals (littoral to fluvial facies) (Fig. 3).

The  Szombathely-II borehole (Fig. 4) penetrated the

Upper Miocene between 23 and 1811 m. The Lake Pan-
non sediments overlie Middle Miocene Sarmatian depos-
its with an apparent unconformity. The top of the

Fig. 2. A NW to SE transect across the southern Kisalföld Basin with the correlated seismic horizons. Line drawing based on a composit
seismic profile. The location of the profile is shown in Fig. 7.

Fig. 3. Biostratigraphic correlation chart for the Upper Miocene Lake Pannon deposits (after Magyar et al. (1999), modified with the
results of this study). The Sarmatian-Pannonian boundary is according to Harzhauser et al. (2004). Mammal zone boundaries follow
Daxner-Höck (2001). The polarity time scale is after Lourens et al. (2004).

Peremarton Group is at 1042 m (Korpás-Hódi 1992; Lan-
tos et al. 1992; Juhász et al. 1996, 1997; Korpás-Hódi et
al. 2000). In terms of mollusc biostratigraphy, the “Lymno-
cardium” praeponticum Zone, the Congeria banatica
Zone, the “Dreissenomya”  digitifera Zone, and the Lymno-
cardium ponticum Zone (Fig. 3) were identified (from bot-
tom to top; Korpás-Hódi 1992; Magyar et al. 1999). The
overlying deposits contain purely freshwater and terrestri-
al molluscs. In the deep water facies, the Mecsekia ultima,

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the  Spiniferites bentorii pannonicus, the Spiniferites ben-
torii oblongus, the Pontiadinium pecsvaradensis, and the
Spiniferites paradoxus dinoflagellate Zones (Fig. 3) were
identified (Sütő-Szentai in Magyar et al. 1999).

The  Nagylózs-1 borehole (Fig. 4) penetrated the Upper

Miocene between 15 and 1031 m. The Upper Miocene
overlies Middle Miocene Sarmatian deposits with a proba-
ble unconformity. The top of the Peremarton Group is at
870 m (Juhász et al. 1996; Korpás-Hódi et al. 2000). In the
mollusc record, the “L.” praeponticum, Congeria czjzeki
(?), and L. ponticum Zones (Fig. 3) were identified (based
on data received from Korpás-Hódi in 1997, Magyar et al.
1999), underlying freshwater and terrestrial associations.
In dinoflagellates, the S. b. oblongus, P. pecsvaradensis,
and  S. paradoxus Zones (Fig. 3) were identified (Sütő-
Szentai in Magyar et al. 1999).

In the Zsira-1 borehole (Fig. 4), the Up-

per Miocene sequence overlies the Mid-
dle Miocene Sarmatian deposits with an
unconformity at 702 m, and the top of the
sequence is at 12 m. The top of the Pere-
marton Group is at 626 m. Freshwater and
land molluscs were recorded between 316
and 447 m. In terms of dinoflagellate bio-
zonations, the P. pecsvaradensis and the
S. paradoxus Zones (Fig. 3) were identi-
fied in the deep water facies of the se-

The Duka-II borehole (Fig. 4) penetrat-

ed the Upper Miocene between 6 and
516 m. The Lake Pannon deposits overlie
Cretaceous rocks. The top of the Peremar-
ton Group is at 374 m (Lantos et al.
1992). In the mollusc record, the sublit-
toral  C. czjzeki Zone and the littoral L.
ponticum Zone (Fig. 3) were identified;
these are overlain by freshwater and ter-
restrial faunas (Korpás-Hódi 1989). In the
dinoflagellates, only the S. paradoxus
Zone (Fig. 3) was identified in the bottom
of the Upper Miocene.


Hennersdorf is located some 10 km

south of Vienna, close to the western mar-
gin of the Vienna Basin. The thickness of
the outcropping sublittoral clay and silty
clay is about 15 m. The lower two third of
the sequence is bluish grey, the upper
third is yellowish grey in colour
(Harzhauser & Mandić 2004). The upper-
most fossiliferous layer in the claypit is
silty and contains a variety of littoral
molluscan shells, probably indicating a
storm- or gravity-induced redeposition
from a littoral environment. A common
mollusc species in the sublittoral facies is
Lymnocardium schedelianum (Fig. 5A),

indicating the L. schedelianum Subzone of the sublittoral
Congeria czjzeki Zone (Magyar et al. 1999; Harzhauser &
Mandić 2004; Fig. 3). Molluscs in the littoral facies in-
clude  Lymnocardium conjungens, marking the L. conjun-
gens Zone (Fig. 3). The mammal fauna is interpreted as
representing the middle part of MN9 (Daxner-Höck
1996a; Harzhauser et al. 2004; Fig. 3).

In  Sopron, fossiliferous sublittoral bluish-grey clay and

claymarl are exposed in a thickness of about 20 m in the
Balfi út claypits. Coarser-grained sediments, such as silt,
sand, and gravel, occur in the upper part of the sequence,
often containing shells of littoral molluscs (Korpás-Hódi
1994). One of the most common fossils in the sublittoral
facies is Lymnocardium soproniense (Fig. 5B), a probable
descendant of L. schedelianum. Its presence defines the L.
soproniense Subzone of the sublittoral Congeria czjzeki

Fig. 4. Sketch of the biostratigraphic and lithostratigraphic units (Upper Miocene to Pleis-
tocene) in the studied boreholes. Pann – pannonicus, obl – oblongus, pecs – pecsva-
radensis, par – paradoxus Zones, fresh-terr – freshwater and terrestrial molluscs.

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Zone. The littoral molluscs, occurring in the upper part of
the outcrops, include Lymnocardium conjungens, thus in-
dicating the L. conjungens Zone (Fig. 3).

The  Pezinok claypit in the eastern foreland of the Malé

Karpaty Mts exposes an alternation of sand, silt, clay, and
lignite layers about 40 m thick (Baráth et al. 1999). These
sediments and the embedded fossils indicate a littoral dep-
ositional environment (Fordinál 1997). The presence of
Lymnocardium conjungens indicates the L. conjungens
Zone (Fig. 3). The uppermost sand beds may be fluvial in
origin. Mammal remains from right below the uppermost
coal seam included the murid rodent Progonomys sp., in-
dicating the lower part of MN10 Zone (Sabol et al. 2004;
Fig. 3).

The village of Bérbaltavár (formerly Baltavár) is locat-

ed 35 km SE of Szombathely. This locality is the only out-
crop in this study which is not an actively exploited
brickyard claypit. The outcrop, originally a road cut, was
first recorded by Suess (1861) as a valuable treasury of fos-
sil mammals. Later Pethő (1885), Kormos (1914), and Ben-
da (1927) excavated the bone-bearing layers, describing
and depicting the exposed sequence as well as the fossil
finds. The sequence consisted of fluvial sands overlying
clayey floodplain sediments, and the lower part of the
sand contained the bones. Kretzoi (1969) considered Bal-
tavár as the type locality of the relatively impoverished,
large mammal-dominated steppe fauna of the Turolian,
and coined the term “Baltavarium” to designate a distinct
phase in the western Eurasian faunal succession. Halaváts
(1925) reported a rich freshwater and terrestrial mollusc
fauna from the locality.  Recent cleaning of the exposure
in the framework of an international project provided an
opportunity for magnetostratigraphic sampling in a 4 m
high section, including the sand above the black, red, and
brown-coloured bone-bearing layer as well as the underly-
ing clay.

Seismic correlations

Correlation of 7 seismic horizons (A to G) was carried out

in the NW-Hungarian part of the Kisalföld Basin, between
the four investigated boreholes. Five horizons (A to E)

were selected arbitrarily; we were looking for well discern-
ible (high amplitude) and well traceable (horizontally
continuous) reflections (although these properties are usu-
ally geographically restricted in each horizon). Horizons F
and G were introduced into the study area from the south,
where they represented biozone boundaries (see in the
next chapter).

The selected horizons were interpreted in ca. 6000 km

2D industrial seismic reflection profiles. These correla-
tions show the large-scale geometry of the basin fill and
thus reflect the depositional processes. A sigmoidal pat-
tern in horizons A to E (Fig. 6) represents the coeval mor-
phology of the basin slope. The boundary between the
flat-lying shallow-water deposits and the dipping slope
deposits (i.e. between the Peremarton and Dunántúl
Groups) is indicated as the “shelf break” in this study
(Fig. 6). The major sediment transport direction was from
the N-NW, thus the slope, together with the shelf break,
gradually moved towards the S-SE (Fig. 7).

Because of the lack of vertical seismic profiling



in the investigated boreholes, the time-depth conversion
between the seismic profiles and the wells introduced at
least several tens of meters uncertainty into the correla-
tion, which has to be taken into account when correlation
options are analysed. Tracing of seismic horizons became
difficult and uncertain in many profiles close to the sur-
face, in the uppermost 100—300 ms.

Biostratigraphic assessment of the seismic horizons

Horizon A –  In the Nagylózs and Zsira wells, this hori-

zon corresponds to fossil-free delta front deposits. Below
the horizon, the last (uppermost) dinoflagellates in both
boreholes indicate the Spiniferites paradoxus Zone. In the
Szombathely-II borehole, however, the horizon is within
the deepwater facies (Spiniferites paradoxus Zone), some-
what below the first occurrence of “Dreissenomya” digi-
tifera (marking the “D”. digitifera Zone). The horizon is
older than the base of well Duka-II (Figs. 2, 4).

Horizon B – In the Nagylózs well this horizon is with-

in the shallow-water facies, and correlates with the lower
part of the L. ponticum Zone.  In the Szombathely-II bore-

Fig. 5. A common bivalve in the Hennersdorf outcrop is Lymnocardium schedelianum (A); in Sopron, however, it is substituted by L. so-
proniense (B). Compare the prominent ribs of A and the almost smooth shell of B. L. soproniense is considered a descendant of L. schede-
lianum. Scales in mm.

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hole, the horizon is within the deep-water facies (Spinifer-
ites paradoxus Zone, “D”. digitifera Zone) (Korpás-Hódi
1992). The horizon is somewhat older than the base of
well Duka-II (Figs. 2, 4).

Horizon C –  This horizon seems to correspond to bio-

facies boundaries in all four boreholes.  In the Nagylózs
and Zsira wells, the horizon approximately correlates with
the biofacies boundary between the shallow-lake and the
exclusively freshwater, alluvial plain facies. In the Duka
and Szombathely wells, however, the horizon is within or
close to the 100 m fossil-free interval that separates the
sublittoral and shallow-lake facies. Thus, it cannot be
younger than the littoral L. ponticum Zone identified in
Duka-II (Figs. 2, 4).

Horizon D –  In the Nagylózs and Zsira wells, the hori-

zon is already within the freshwater alluvial plain facies.
In the Szombathely borehole it is within the L. ponticum
Zone, whereas in Duka it still corresponds to the fossil-free
interval (Figs. 2, 4).

Horizon E –  In the Nagylózs and Zsira wells the hori-

zon is within the freshwater alluvial plain facies, whereas

Fig. 6. Uninterpreted (above) and interpreted (below) versions of a N-S composite seismic profile across the Kisalföld Basin with seismic
horizons A to E. The profile is flattened to horizon F, thus reflecting the basin morphology at the time when F represented an almost hori-
zontal, flat-lying fluvial plain (ca. 8.6 Ma ago). Dashed line indicates the shelf break, corresponding to the lithostratigraphic boundary be-
tween the Peremarton and Dunántúl Groups. Slope height indicates a paleo-waterdepth of ca. 300 m. For location of the profile see Fig. 7.

Fig. 7. The western part of the Kisalföld Basin with subsequent shelf
break lines belonging to seismic horizons A to E. Seismic correlations
were performed in the shaded area (ca. 6000 km 2D profiles covering
~ 8000 km


). Note the gradual south-southeastward progradation.

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in Szombathely and Duka it is within the L. ponticum
Zone, close to the shallow-lake/freshwater alluvial plain
facies boundary (Fig. 4).

Horizon F –  This horizon is within the freshwater allu-

vial plain biofacies in all the four wells (Fig. 4). (In Duka-
II, it may overlie the entire sequence of the well, coming
to the surface west of the borehole; correlation is rather
ambiguous here (Fig. 2).) The horizon represents the basal
part of the Spiniferites validus Zone south of the study
area (e.g. in Iharosberény-I borehole, see Magyar et al.
1999).  As a consequence of the Pliocene or Quaternary up-
lift of the Transdanubian Central Range, this horizon
emerges onto the surface east of the study area, in the vi-
cinity of Nyárád (for its location see Fig. 7). A surface out-
crop in Nyárád yielded a fossil rodent, Allospalax petteri
(Bachmayer et Wilson) (Kordos 1987). The same form is
known from Sümeg (MN10, according to, among others,
Daxner-Höck 1996b; Mészáros 1999), Kohfidisch (late
MN10, Daxner-Höck 1996a), Eichkogel (MN11, Daxner-
Höck 1996a), and Tihany (Kordos 1987, 1989). Thus, the
temporal range of this species seems to be late MN10 to
early MN11. The MN10/MN11 boundary was magneto-
stratigraphically dated in Spain as 8.7 Ma (Krijgsman et
al. 1996). These data suggest that the age of Horizon F
may be approximated with this number.

Horizon G –  This horizon is estimated to be at about

150 m depth in Nagylózs, 100 m in Zsira, and 400 m in
Szombathely, in fluvial facies (Fig. 4). The horizon is defi-
nitely younger than the top of borehole Duka-II (Fig. 2).
Horizon G  represents  the base of the littoral Prosodacno-
mya Zone south of the study area (e.g. in Iharosberény-I
borehole, see Magyar et al. 1999). The youngest possible
age of Horizon G is determined by the K/Ar dating of the
Tihany volcano (Magyar et al. 1999). An isochron age of
7.92 ± 0.22 Ma has been obtained recently for the onset of
volcanic activity in Tihany (Balogh & Németh 2005). The
underlying Tihany-Fehérpart outcrop belongs to the Lym-
nocardium decorum Zone (Müller & Szónoky 1990), and
yielded  Allospalax petteri, correlated with MN11 (Kordos
1989). Thus the age of the horizon can be estimated as
7.9 Ma to ~ 8 .3 Ma.


Sampling and laboratory procedures

Details of the paleomagnetic studies have been pub-

lished elsewhere (Lantos et al. 1992; Lantos & Elston
1995; Juhász et al. 1999); a short summary is given here.

Samples were collected from undisturbed, unaltered and

wet sediments. Modifications due to weathering were ob-
served in several beds but these were not sampled. Sam-
ples were taken from the central parts of the borehole cores
at 0.5 m interval. The upper part of the surface exposures
commonly consists of coarse-grained, oxidized or dry, fri-
able sediments that were not sampled. Dry and weathered
materials were removed from the wall of the exposures,
and the samples were collected at 10 cm stratigraphic in-

tervals from outcrops at Hennersdorf and Sopron, 30 cm at
Bérbaltavár, and 1 m intervals at Pezinok. The cubic sam-
ples were cut from the unconsolidated sediments with a
brass knife and were placed in plastic boxes, which then
were sealed and stored in a refrigerator to inhibit desicca-
tion. Altogether, slightly more than 7600 samples were
collected from the four holes and the four exposures.

The samples were processed at the joint laboratory of

the Geological Institute of Hungary and Eötvös Loránd
Geophysical Institute. Laboratory measurements em-
ployed a two-axis CCL (Cryogenic Consultants Limited)
magnetometer. Following measurement of the natural re-
manent magnetization, a series of pilot samples represent-
ing different lithologies, depths, and inclinations were
selected for progressive alternating field (AF) demagneti-
zation. These pilot samples were demagnetized in a one-
component Schoenstedt demagnetizer up to 90 mT or
until the intensity decreased below the noise level of the
magnetometer. The demagnetization behaviour of the pi-
lot samples is depicted in orthogonal demagnetization di-
agrams (Fig. 8a—d). Additional demagnetization diagrams
from the Szombathely section can be found in Lantos &
Elston (1995). Most samples exhibited two components of
magnetization, and the relatively soft secondary magneti-
zations disappeared at 10—20 mT in the samples from
boreholes and at 20—30 mT from outcrops. A few samples
exhibited disturbed demagnetization behaviour above
50—60 mT, where a third component of magnetization, a
gyroremanence, was probably acquired during demagneti-
zation (Fig. 8b). Most pilot samples displayed no changes
in polarity with demagnetization, only about 20 percent
of the inclinations changed polarity. The majority of incli-
nations thus exhibited no hint of different polarities near
the threshold level of stability.

The remaining samples were demagnetized mainly in

two or three steps in 15—30 (40) mT. Samples from the
Zsira-1 borehole were demagnetized in 10—15 mT because
the magnetic intensity decreased near the noise level of
the magnetometer in a higher demagnetization field. About
10 percent of the samples did not contain stable directions
and were discarded. Most of these samples were collected
from the shallow-lake and the alluvial plain facies.

A lack of cementation precluded thermal demagnetiza-

tion of the sediments. Several pilot samples from more
consolidated rocks from the Szombathely-II borehole were
progressively demagnetized thermally in a Schoenstedt
demagnetizer. Differences in inclination between the ther-
mal and AF demagnetization averaged 3º (Lantos & El-
ston 1995).

Geological studies and subsurface correlations indicate

that the Lake Pannon sediments accumulated rapidly and
were buried promptly, and have remained undisturbed and
unexposed since burial. The sediments also remained wet.
Most strata exhibited rather uniform grey colours repre-
senting unoxidized sediments, and modifications due to
weathering were observed commonly near the top of the
sections. X-ray diffraction analysis, micromineralogical
and rock magnetic studies indicate that detrital magnetite
is the principal carrier of stable magnetization in the sedi-

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ments (Lantos & Elston 1995; Thamó-Bozsó 2002). The
only exception is Pezinok, where hematite was identified
as the principal carrier (Kovács-Pálffy, pers. comm). All
studies indicate minor weathering, therefore the stable di-
rections are considered to reflect original magnetization
acquired during deposition. However, several short inter-
vals of normal polarity may be related to post-deposition-
al magnetizations. Such intervals occur mainly in the
delta front deposits at Nagylózs-1 and Zsira-1 sections,
and in nearshore sands above 194 m in Duka-II borehole.

Correlation with the geomagnetic polarity time scale

The biostratigraphically calibrated seismic framework

establishes a ca. 4  million year temporal window that al-
lows the polarity records to be correlated with the polarity
time scale. All magnetostratigraphic records were re-exam-
ined and re-correlated with the ATNTS (Astronomically
Tuned Neogene Time Scale) by Lourens et al. (2004) (al-
though differences between ATNTS2004 and the formerly
used GPTS of Berggren et al. (1995) are insignificant at
the level of our correlations).

The lowermost long interval of normal polarity in the

Szombathely-II section coincides with the deep water C.
banatica molluscan Zone, representing the basal Upper
Miocene in the Pannonian Basin (Korpás-Hódi 1992;
Magyar et al. 1999). Therefore, the basal long normal po-
larity interval in the Szombathely, Nagylózs, and Zsira
boreholes correlates with Chron C5n (Figs. 9, 10 and 11).
Seismic horizons C and D are within a predominantly nor-
mal polarity interval in the Nagylózs-1, Zsira-1 and Duka-II
boreholes, and this normal polarity interval was correlated
with Chron C4An. The Nagylózs-1 section appears to be
complete from Chron C5n to C4n (Fig. 10).

The seismostratigraphic correlation suggests that the

sediments at the base of the Duka-II sequence accumulat-
ed during Chron C4Ar (Fig. 12). The magnetostratigraphic
correlation above 194 m is uncertain, because the seis-
mic correlation is rather ambiguous here and post-depo-

Fig. 8. Diagrams of demagnetization for samples: A – drillhole Duka-II, at a depth of 284.5 m, B – drillhole Nagylózs-1, 910.4 m,
C – drillhole Zsira-1, 492.5 m, D – outcrop of Sopron, 9.75 m. + – vertical plane,   – horizontal plane.

Fig. 9. Correlation of polarity zones in Szombathely-II core sec-
tion with the geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS) of Lourens
et al. (2004). Correlation modified from Lantos & Elston (1995).
Black – normal polarity; white – reversed polarity; black and
white – mixed polarity; grey – no sample.

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sitional processes might have overprinted the original di-

The polarity zones in the Zsira-1 borehole were correlat-

ed with the polarity time scale mainly on the basis of seis-
mic time lines between the Nagylózs-1 and Zsira-1
boreholes. The normal polarity zones have been assigned
to Chrons C5n, C4Ar.1n, C4An and C4n but deposits cor-
responding to Chron C4Ar.2n (and large part of Chron
C4Ar.3r) appear to be missing (Fig. 11). The secondary
magnetization was not completely removed in low de-
magnetization field between 570—615 m, thus spurious
polarity reversals may occur here and the polarity record is
not reliable.

The polarity zones below 1220 m in the Szombathely-II

section correlate with Chrons C5n—C4Ar.2n (Fig. 9).
Above 1220 m, an extremely long interval of reversed po-
larity extends to 117 m. The negative inclinations must re-
flect original directions because progressive AF and
thermal demagnetizations, rock magnetic and mineralogic

Fig. 10. Correlation of polarity zones in Nagylózs-1 core section
with the geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS) of Lourens et al.
(2004). For legend see Fig. 9.

Fig. 11. Correlation of polarity zones in Zsira-1 core section with
the geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS) of Lourens et al.
(2004). For legend see Fig. 9.

studies indicate that the stable magnetization resides in
magnetite aligned with the ambient field during deposi-
tion (Lantos & Elston 1995). Additionally, the general
lack of iron hydroxides indicates a lack of alteration of the
magnetite. Moreover, a similar, overly thick interval of re-
versed polarity was encountered in a borehole at Torony,
located about 15 km west of Szombathely. Although the
base of the reversed polarity interval was not encountered
at Torony, similarities in stratigraphy and polarity be-
tween the drill core sections indicate a stratigraphically re-
producible thick interval of reversed polarity.

Seismic horizons in the normal polarity interval, as-

signed to Chron C4An in the other sections (horizons C,
D, and E), correlate with horizons at a depth of between
770 and 950 m in the Szombathely-II drill site. As no in-
terval of normal polarity was encountered here, Chrons
C4An and C4Ar.1n are not represented in the Szombat-
hely-II record (Fig. 9). Within the Dunántúl Group, Phil-
lips et al. (1992) recognized an erosional surface at

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Fig. 12. Correlation of polarity zones in Duka-II core section with
the geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS) of Lourens et al.
(2004). For legend see Fig. 9.

1003 m, and this may represent at least some of the loss of
geological and paleomagnetic record.

The seismic horizon F at Nagylózs-1 drill site is in a re-

versed polarity interval, correlated with Chron C4r. This hori-
zon was traced to the Szombathely-II site where it lies at a
depth of 530 m. Therefore the upper part of the long reversed
polarity interval in Szombathely-II has been assigned to
Chron C4r, and the relatively narrow normal polarity zone
between 76 and 117 m may correlate with Chron C4n.

In the claypits of Hennersdorf, Sopron, and Pezinok, the

entire sections display an interval of normal polarity.
These localities all yield Lymnocardium conjungens, and
the  Lymnocardium conjungens Zone is considered to co-
incide with Chron C5n (Magyar et al. 1999; Fig. 3). There-
fore the normal polarity interval of these claypits
correlates with Chron C5n (Fig. 13).

If the lower part of MN10 mammal Zone in the upper

part of the Pezinok section is valid (Sabol et al. 2004), the
MN9/MN10 boundary must be older than 9.78 Ma, the end

Fig. 13. Correlation of polarity zones in the outcrops at Hennersdorf,
Pezinok, Sopron, and Bérbaltavár with the geomagnetic polarity time
scale (GPTS) of Lourens et al. (2004). For legend see Fig. 9.

of Chron C5n. Krijgsman et al. (1996) put the MN9/MN10
boundary at 9.7 Ma, which is less inconsistent with our data
than the 9.5 Ma datum proposed by Steininger et al. (1996).

The inclinations show an interval of normal polarity in

the Baltavár section. A seismic horizon in the Iharos-
berény-I borehole at 700 m (P. dainellii Subzone; see
Magyar et al. 1999) emerges to  ~ 100 m below the surface
in the vicinity of Baltavár. The P. dainellii Subzone corre-
sponds to Chron C4n (Magyar et al. 1999), thus the nor-
mal polarity record in Baltavár is inferred to represent this
chron (8.11 to 7.53 Ma; Fig. 13).


Base of the Pannonian stage

There seems to be a wide consensus that the age of the

Sarmatian/Pannonian boundary is between 11 and 12 Ma

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Fig. 14. Accumulation vs. time (without compaction) diagram for
the Szombathely-II, Nagylózs-1, Zsira-1 and Duka-II wells.

(Vass et al. 1987; Vass 1999; Magyar et al. 1999;
Harzhauser et al. 2004), although a few outlying interpre-
tations also occur (Kókay et al. 1991; Vakarcs et al. 1999).
Within this 1-million-year interval, however, the data and
interpretations widely scatter. Recently Harzhauser et al.
(2004) proposed an astronomically estimated age model
which dates the beginning of the Pannonian at 11.6 Ma,
corresponding to the Middle/Late Miocene boundary
(Fig. 3). The magnetostratigraphic interpretation of the
Szombathely and Nagylózs polarity records indicates that
the base of the Lake Pannon sequence is indeed older than
Chron C5n (i.e. belongs to C5r, 12.01 to 11.04 Ma). Al-
though both profiles contain the lowermost biozones of
the Pannonian (Mecsekia ultima and Lymnocardium prae-
ponticum Zones), a hiatus is supposed to be present be-
tween the Pannonian and the underlying Sarmatian,
because the long reversed polarity interval of Chron C5r is
poorly represented in both boreholes (Figs. 9 and 10). The
hypothetical 11.6 Ma datum cannot be tested in the inves-
tigated sections.

Dating the seismic horizons and biozone boundaries

On the basis of the integrated interpretation, the follow-

ing chrons and approximate ages can be assigned to the
seismic horizons: A: C4Ar.2n, 9.7 Ma; B: C4Ar.1r,
9.2 Ma; C: C4An, 9 Ma; D: C4An, 8.9 Ma; E: C4An,
8.8 Ma; F: lower part of C4r, 8.6 Ma; and G: lower part of
C4n or upper part of C4r, 8.0 Ma. These results indicate
that the upper boundary of the Spiniferites paradoxus di-
noflagellate Zone and that of the Congeria czjzeki Zone
are both younger than 9.2 Ma (in Duka-II, they are young-
er than horizon B; Fig. 4). The boundary between the Con-
geria banatica and “Dreissenomya” digitifera deep water
molluscan Zones is around 9.6 Ma (approximately corre-
sponding to horizon A in Szombathely-II; Figs. 4 and 9).
Finally, deposition of the littoral Lymnocardium ponticum
molluscan Zone lasted from at least 8.8 to 9.2 Ma (in
Duka-II it is younger than horizon E, whereas in Nagylózs-1
it is older than horizon B; Fig. 4). The biostratigraphic chart
in Fig. 3 was already edited in accord with these data.

Depositional history

Average rates of accumulation for different time inter-

vals in the borehole sections were calculated from the
magnetostratigraphic correlations (Fig. 14). These esti-
mates are average minimum rates of accumulation and do
not take into account the effects of compaction.

Accumulation of Lake Pannon deposits began some-

what before 11 Ma (Szombathely-II, Nagylózs-1) or later
(Zsira-1, Duka-II) in the studied sections (Figs. 9—12). The
time interval of Chron C5n (11.04 to 9.78 Ma) is repre-
sented by thick deposits in the Szombathely-II, Nagylózs-1
and Zsira-1 boreholes. The accumulation rates indicate an
increase in the sedimentary input and subsidence of the
basin between 9.78 and 8.77 Ma, however, there are sig-
nificant differences between the drill sites (300—600 m/
Myr, Fig. 14). The inferred gaps in sedimentary records at

Szombathely-II and Zsira-1 (Figs. 9 and 11) suggest a tem-
porary loss of accommodation space rather than a lack of
transport capacity of rivers, because the deposition was
continuous in the Nagylózs-1 and Duka-II boreholes at the
same time. The accumulation rates after 8.77 Ma (above
seismic horizon F) indicate a slower and more uniform
subsidence  in the area (ca. 200 m/Myr,  Fig. 14).  The
youngest Miocene sediments in the investigated borehole
sections may be ca. 7.4—7.2 Ma old.

Horizon C corresponds to biofacies boundaries in all

four boreholes. Moreover, this horizon approximately cor-
responds to a sequence boundary in Vakarcs et al. (1994),
at the base of a normal polarity interval at 8.2 Ma by the
polarity time scale of Berggren et al. (1985). The age of
this horizon (base of Chron C4An) is 9.10 Ma in the
ATNTS2004. Vakarcs et al. (1994) suggested a deposi-
tional hiatus associated with this sequence boundary in
more easterly parts of the Pannonian Basin. Horizon C is
at 900—950 m depth in the Szombathely well (Fig. 4), rela-

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tively close to the unconformity surface observed at
1003 m. Although the seismic profiles do not provide evi-
dence of the presence of a significant sequence boundary
and associated hiatus in the studied area, such phenomena
might well influence the sedimentation in the investigated
borehole sections.

Patterns of progradation

The shelf break swept across the Kisalföld Basin in less

than 1 Myr, turning the lacustrine basin into fluvial
plains. The shelf break ran parallel with the basin margin
along the eastern foot of the Alps and Carpathians at
9.7 Ma (horizon A in Fig. 7). The area behind the shelf
break line had been transformed to  shallow lacustrine and
fluvial environments by this time; the offshore sediments
at Hennersdorf and Sopron must have been deposited ear-
lier. The shelf break line had already passed Zsira,
Nagylózs, and Pezinok, where shallow lacustrine and del-
taic sedimentation took place at this time.

Progradation continued east- and southward into the

central part of the Kisalföld Basin. According to the thick-
ness of the sigmoid patterns on seismic profiles, the water
depth in the basin was ca. 300 m. By 9 Ma (horizon C in
Fig. 7) the shelf break line had passed Szombathely and
Duka, replacing the sublittoral environment with shallow
lacustrine and deltaic conditions. Some 50 km behind the
shelf break, at Zsira and Nagylózs, the temporary influ-
ence of Lake Pannon ceased forever, and freshwater and
terrestrial environments prevailed.

The shift of the shelf break line then was slow in the

western part of the basin relative to the basin proper. As a
result, the subsequent shelf break lines display a fan-
shaped pattern, the “rotation centre” being in the Őrség re-
gion of western Hungary or in northeastern Slovenia. At
8.8 Ma (horizon E in Fig. 7), the deltaic influence was
about to end at Szombathely and Duka, ca. 50 km behind
the shelf break, whereas deltaic and shallow lacustrine en-
vironment still prevailed around Bérbaltavár, about 30 km
behind the shelf break. The Baltavár mammals and terres-
trial and freshwater molluscs lived some time later, when
the delta system moved further to the south.

Acknowledgments:  The cleaning and magnetostratigraph-
ic investigation of the Bérbaltavár locality was sponsored
by the National Geographic Society in the framework of
Project 6210—98, Evolution of Central Paratethys (Hunga-
ry) Miocene Vertebrate Communities, with R.L. Bernor
and L. Kordos as principal investigators. The authors
thank R.L. Bernor and MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Co.
for permitting the publication of the Bérbaltavár magneto-
stratigraphic data and the Kisalföld seismic materials, re-
spectively. F.F. Steininger, I. Baráth and K. Fordinál are
thanked for making available the Hennersdorf and Pezi-
nok claypits for sampling and investigations. We also
thank I. Baráth and M. Harzhauser for their careful review
and useful comments on the earlier version of this paper.
This study was supported by the Hungarian Scientific Re-
search Fund (OTKA) Project No. T 035168.


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