Seven sedimentary bentonite deposits were investigated in the Miocene series of the Pannonian Basin. The following stratigraphic and genetic characteristics were significant: (1) all deposits were formed within a transgressive series of a given Miocene sequence; and (2) it is possible that the source material of the bentonites is rhyolitic, confirmed by radiometric data proving simultaneous rhyolite tuff volcanism.
A detailed investigation on three lithologically different bentonite horizons within the same transgressive series was made at Sajóbábony to determine the source material and to determine the causes of the differences. X-ray diffraction, differential thermal analysis and geochemical data of the different lithological types show that they all have rhyolitic source material, although in the case of the lowermost horizon the existence of reworked material from an underlying andesite tuff series is also presumed. The main difference is the degree of weathering. Considering the ratio between the amorphous phase and the montmorillonite, the amorphous volcanic glass can be regarded as the main source of the montmorillonite formation. The differences in the degree of alteration can be related to the changing characteristics of the tuff accumulation and the sedimentation. Transgression decreases the sedimentation rate allowing the optimal alteration of the amorphous phase. The increasing intensity of the tuff accumulation can also limit the bentonite formation because rapid deposition and burial present too little time for the optimal alteration of the amorphous phase.
Summarizing the results from the stratigraphic interpretation of the bentonite deposits and from the comparative analyses of the different bentonite horizons within the same transgressive systems tract, we can state that the relationship of the tectonic-related tuff accumulation and the eustasy-related sedimentation rate can affect both the possibility of bentonite formation in macro-scale and the degree of bentonitization in micro-scale.