Abstract

The intercalation of silty units and coarse-grained units represented by conglomerates and breccia characterizes a Lower Miocene terrestrial sedimentary sequence in the North Croatian Basin, a part of the southwestern Pannonian Basin system. These sediments were previously interpreted as alluvial sediments, where the silty units would reflect deposition on a floodplain. However, in this study, we show new results that support a different interpretation of the genesis of the silty units. The units, which vary in thickness between 6 and 180 cm, are mostly composed of structureless loose silt. They are brownish yellow to yellowish brown in color and do not contain fossils. Scanning electron microscopy indicated that quartz grains show fracture faces, conchoidal fractures, V-shaped percussion marks, linear steps, and conchoidal crushing features. Such microtextures together with the macroscopic characteristics of the silt units indicate that they were deposited by wind. Therefore, this study reports the first occurrence of Miocene loess outside of China. Silt-sized particles were probably produced by salt-weathering processes on salina-type lake flats during long arid periods. Alluvial deposition was controlled by a more humid climate, so the intercalation of eolian silty units with alluvial conglomerates and breccias reflects alternation of arid and more humid periods in the early Miocene. This agrees with regional paleoclimate studies that show cyclicity in the climate, with a dry cycle and orbital-scale climate variability controlling paleoenvironmental and sedimentary changes in the area during the early Miocene.

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