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THE PANNONIAN LAKE DISAPPEARANCE IN THE LATE UPPERMOST PLEISTOCENE -

CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES


Ţicleanu Mircea1, Constantin Paul1, Stănoiu Ion1, Bădiceanu Emanuela, Sereţan Vasile2, Nicolescu Radu1, Ţicleanu Radu

Paper presented at „The XVIIIth Congress of the Carpathian-Balkans Geological Association”, Belgrade 2006
1
Geological Institute of Romania, str. Caransebeş nr. 1, Bucureşti
2
Formin S.A. str. Mihai Viteazu nr. 1, Caransebeş
Abstract: The Pannonian Lake, placed in an endoreic basin even since the late Pontian, seem to had been existed during the entire
Pleistocene. Its partial drainage, due to the genesis of Danube Gorge as a result of a piracy from the Dacic Basin, was facilitated by an
overloading that followed a flood due to the meteorites rain that affected the West Atlantic over 11,500 years ago (9,541 B.C.). An
endoreic lake, having its shore at about +100 m elevation, was maintained in the Lower Holocene in the SE area of the Pannonian Basin
mainly. The Pleistocene evolution of the Dacic Basin, the Pleistocene lacustrine delta of the Paleo-Mureş and the Holocene marine
Danube Delta are in favour of this viewpoint. The Holocene sands "dunes" of the Pannonian area and Romanian Plain, formed due to this
flood, had in fact eolian-aluvial origins, instead of an eolian one. The paleogeographical post-flood changes of the Pannonian area seem
to be reflected in some great humanity myths (Atlantis, biblical flood, North Scandinavian myths), as well.
Key word: Pannonian Lake, uppermost Pleistocene, endoreic basin, flood, delta, Danube Gorge
1. Introduction. The problem of the Pannonian Lake in the Late Pliocene (2,4 billion years ago, according to
disappearance cannot be solved without taking into this author), the Pannonian Lake was filled completely.
account the paleogeographical evolution of the However, other authors (Voiteşti, 1936; L. de Loczy, 1910,
surrounding areas, the Dacic Basin mainly, the moment fide Vâlsan, 1964); Oncescu, 1965) consider that the
and the way in which the Danube Gorge was built, the Pannonian Basin was isolated during the Lower
Danube Delta evolution, the great Quaternary glaciation Pleistocene as well. L. de Lőczy (1910) considers that
climatic changes, the actual Central and Southeast Europe during this period (the "Old" Pleistocene), a desert, with
hydrographic facts, and many others, as well. The rivers without drainage and an arid climate, was installed
achievement of all these aspects suggests the late, post in the Pannonian Basin. However, in our viewpoint the
Pleistocene definitivation of the actual configuration of the Pannonian Lake was maintained during the whole
Danube hydrographic system, and the special part of an Pleistocene, with minimal extensions during the glacial
unwonted cosmic event, which in the Late Uppermost phases (the Riss phase mainly), and with returns during the
Pleistocene affected the whole planet. Thus, the present interglacial phases. This lake drainage by the actual
paper tried to obtain a coherent image of the Danube Gorge seem to be realised in the Late Uppermost
paleogeographical evolution of a large area, from the Pleistocene. However, the drainage was only partial,
viewpoint of a possible very long survival of an endoreic because, during the Lower Holocene a nonendoreic lake
basin of the Central Paratethys, basin with a very was maintained initially in the SE area of the Pannonian
interesting evolution. Basin, having its shore at about +100 m elevation for a
2. The paleogeographical evolution of the Pannonian long time (for some millennium possibly). It is interesting
Basin. It is usual to consider that the separation of the to mention that until historical times, the passing of waters
Pannonian Sea, as part of the Central Paratethys, took through the Danube Gorge was still difficult, thus in spring
place beginning with the Sarmatian, which meant the there was possible to appear a temporary lake upstream,
isolation of a great endoreic lake, which had a particular called by the antics "Mare Album".
evolution for a long time. However, it seems that a last 2.1. The Pleistocene lacustrine delta of Paleo-Mureş. A
temporary link, demonstrated by the mollusc faunas, was clear proof for the existence of the Pannonian Lake in the
established during the Middle Pontian. But beginning with Pleistocene, can be considered the very well shaped delta
the Upper Pontian, a definitive isolation of the Pannonian of the Paleo-Mureş. The great quantity of sediments
Lake took place, which was maintained, without any brought by the Paleo-Mureş from a very large area of the
doubt, during the whole Pliocene. The lake was Transylvanian Basin was subaerial, deposited only
characterised by an endoreic, local thermophile fauna, and partially, in the circumstances of a very weak final current
by a relative pronounced hydrothermalism. One can of the river, into a lake with a great surface and lacking
assume as the maximal extension of this lake, during streams generally.
Pliocene, was linked with the Dacian-Romanian coal- 3. The paleogeographical evolution of the Dacic Basin.
generating phase, which made possible the appearance of The surface of this great Mio-Pliocene Basin was gradually
the Pliocene coal facies known in this basin. Beginning reduced, beginning with the Upper Miocene mainly.
with the Late Pliocene, the Pannonian Lake evolution was However, its great extensions can be imagined in the
very disputed. Some authors (Kázmér, 1990) consider that Middle Pontian (with possible link to the Pannonian
Basin), and in the Pliocene, as well, during the coal- Paleo-Danube. Another hypotheses took into account a
generating phase. Beginning with the terminal Pliocene, quasipermanent link between the Pannonian Lake and the
the lake area which developed in the Dacic Basin, Dacic Basin, link which became later the actual gorge:
sweetened completely even since the beginning of the Murgoci (1902, 1908), Cvijić (1908), Macovei (1909),
Romanian, reduced continuously towards East and South, Paucă (initially). Another version took into account "an
process that continued in distinct phases during overflow of waters" which resulted from the Pannonian
Quaternary, as well. To the final Pleistocene, the lacustrial waters level rising: Toula (1896), Hallavats (1900),
area was reduced and it covered the actual Danube Schafarzik (1903). Some authors pointed out the special
meadow, continued with the actual Brăila and Ialomiţa part played in the gorge genesis by the dislocation system
swamps. The Romanian Plain rivers flew practically into from its area: Peters (1876), Inkey (1884), Iannescu
this relict lake, and the Danube Pleistocene "protodelta" (in (1895), Drăghiceanu (1896), Sevastos (1903, 1908).
the West of "The Initial Jebriany-Letea-Caraorman Spit" Towards our days, the part played by the neotectonics upon
which was pointed out by Panin, 1977), due to the rivers this area was took into account mainly by Grubić et al.
from Moldova mainly (Siret, Prut) or from Ukraine (1972, 1997), Marović et al. (1997), to the idea of a
(Catlabug, Ialpug and Cahul). During its evolution, the polygenetic origin of the Danube Gorge.
Dacic Basin was never isolated from the Pontic and Caspic 5. The favouring causes of disappearance of the
Basins, till the glacial phases. After the glacial phase endoreic Pannonian Lake: the meteorites rain and the
Würm, the waters came back and during Holocene the link flood. The re-established hydrological link between the
between the Pontic Basin with the Mediterranean Sea was Pannonian and Dacic basins seemed that was facilitated by
re-established along the actual Bosfor Straits. the following events of a meteorites rain that took place
4. The Danube Gorge genesis. Different authors placed over 11 millennium ago (9,541 B.C.). The Halley's comet
the moment of its appearance in very different moments: passing at a short distance from Terra (Kamienski, 1952),
(1) In the Upper Sarmatian: Paucă (1981) or in the end of thus during the end of the Pleistocene, produced a
the "Sarmatic": Sevastos (1903); (2); In Miocene or Pre- meteorites rain upon the terrestrial globe, but which was
Miocene ("Pontic"): Cvijić (1908); (3) In the end of the concentrated towards the Western edge of the North
Pliocene (beginning of Quaternary namely): Lapparent Atlantic, between the 300 and 400 parallels. A large number
(1896), Hallavats (1900), de Martonne (1902), Sevastos a great meteorites (about 140,000) and a lot of small
(1903, 1908), Macovei (1909), Vâlsan (1919 fide Vâlsan meteorites reached the North America shore as well, in the
1964), Ionescu-Balea (1923), Coteţ (1957), Posea et al. area of the actual states Carolina (Prouty, 1952) mainly.
(1963), Paucă (1981), Kásmér (1990); In the end of the The impact, beyond some important earthquakes at
Lower Quaternary (Old Quaternary, Eopleistocene): L. de planetary level, determined the vaporisation of a huge
Lóczy (1910, fide Vâlsan, 1964), Vâlsan (1919 - first quantity of oceanic water, as well, fact which led lately to
option), Popescu-Voiteşti (1936), Oncescu (1965), Marović showers that lasted very long, upon a large area which
et al. (1997); (5) In the end of the Pleistocene: Brătescu included the Central and Eastern Europe, as well. These
(1943), Pop (1947) and Apostol (1980). showers fell upon the Pannonian Lake and its drainage
It is obvious that according to each of these different basin, as well, modifying dramatically the lake hydrologic
moments, the discussion concerning the causes that led to balance, meaning an extreme overloading, initial due to the
the gorge genesis, it is different. Old or very old links liquid rainfalls which flew directly on the lake surface and
between the two basins, which became permanent finally, later due to the water from the Pannonian lake drainage
cannot be accepted. The largest admitted is the opinion basin. The shore of this lake was placed at about +150
according to which the Danube hydrographic basin was (±10 m) elevation, before the meteorites rain. The gorge
sketched in the end of the Pliocene (the beginning of the narrow path building, by piracy probably, led to the
Quaternary), but more possible seem to be the hypotheses disappearance of the endoreic character of the actual
which are in favour of a newer age (intra-pleistocene) or Middle Danube Depression, and to the appearance of a
even very new one (end of Pleistocene). relict lake with surface drainage, having its shore at about
Regarding the Danube Gorge genesis, one must mention +100 m elevation, lake which survived a while in the SE
first of all the piracy hypotheses proposed by Peters part of the Pannonian Basin mainly (fig. 1)
(1876), for which Murgoci (1902), de Martonne (1902), 6. The major consequences of the sudden
Vâlsan (1919), Ficheux and Vergez-Tricom (1948), Posea disappearance of the Pannonian Lake. The special
et al. (1963), Rădulescu et al. (1965) and recently Marović rainfall contribution which preceded the Pannonian Lake
et al. (1997) were in favour. In an elaborated form, this restraint led to some sandy sediments accumulation in this
hypotheses admitted the piracy of a river with Western lake area, in its central part mainly (between Danube and
direction (the Pannonian Paleo-Danube) by a Valahian Tisza), in the NW of the Bákony Mountains and towards
SE, in the Deliblat dunes area. A part of these sands were these sands being connected to the hydrographical basins
transported towards the Dacic Basin as well, where they of these rivers. However, one can assume that a part of
were accumulated downstream the Danube Gorge, till its these sand contributed to the Holocene marine Danube
confluence with Jiu river mostly. Downstream of this Delta genesis as well, developed in the East of "The Initial
confluence there appear "eolian" sands in the left slope of Jebriany-Letea-Caraorman Spit"-Panin (1977). Holocene
Jiu river, and in the right bank of other Danube tributaries
(Ialomiţa, Călmăţui and Buzău rivers) as well, the origin of

Fig.1 - The Pannonian Basin paleogeographical (hydrographical) image in Lower Holocene (after the Danube Gorge genesis) and the
Holocene alluvial sands accumulation. (Interpretation after "The Europe Quaternary deposits map", 1:1.500.000, 1971, Moscow - Red.
Krasnov I. I.). Legend: 1 - Lakes and swamps; 2 - Holocene sands; 3 - Actual lakes Balaton and Neusiedl (Fertö); 4 - Land
alluvial sands appear as well in the Romanian Plain and Lake (endoreic) disappearance and the building of a non-
along the Danube, in the Ialomiţa and Brăila swamps area, endoreic, relict lake, in the SE part of the Pannonian Basin,
and in the lower part of Bârlad river, as well, till over the having the shore at about +100 m; the beginning of the
confluence with Siret river. For all the above mentioned Holocene Danube Delta building (in the East of "The
Holocene sands one can admit a primary alluvial origin, Initial Jebriany-Letea-Caraorman Spit") with fine
followed by an eolian modelling, fact which give a general sedimentary material mainly, having its origin in the
aspect of eolian deposits. previous Pannonian Lake; the eolian processing of the
For the Holocene sands, thought to be "eolian" in South aluvionar sands sedimented in the Pannonian area or along
Oltenia, Ionescu-Balea noticed, even since 1923, that these the Danube and some of its tributaries, sands proceeded
don’t have the typical characteristics of the sea or initially from the flood that followed the meteorites rain;
continental dunes, representing rather irregular masses of the actual Danube hydrographic system finalisation.
sands with asymmetric undulations which have the References
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Proceeding of the XVIIIth Congress of the


Carpathian-Balkans Geological Association”,
Belgrade 2006

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