We describe a late Miocene to early Pliocene axial drainage system in the East Carpathian foreland, which was an important sediment supplier to the Black Sea and the Dacian Basin. Its existence explains the striking progradation of the northwest Black Sea shelf prior to the onset of sediment supply from the continental-scale Danube River in the late Pliocene to Pleistocene. This axial drainage system evolved due to the diachronous along-strike evolution of the Carpathians and their foreland; continental collision, overfilling, slab breakoff, and subsequent exhumation of the foreland occurred earlier in the West Carpathians than in the East Carpathians. After overfilling of the western foreland, excess sediment was transferred along the basin axis, giving rise to a 300-km-wide by 800-km-long, southeast-prograding river-shelf-slope system with a sediment flux of ~12 × 103 km3/m.y. Such late-stage axial sediment systems often develop in foreland basins, in particular, where orogenesis is diachronous along strike. Substantial lateral sediment transport thus needs to be taken into account, even though evidence of these axial systems is often eroded following slab breakoff and inversion of their foreland basins.

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