Recent developments in geoanalytics have led to the rapidly increasing potential of sedimentary provenance analysis in paleogeographic reconstructions. Here we combine standard methods (petrography, zircon U-Pb geochronology, optical heavy-mineral identification) with modern techniques such as automated Raman-spectroscopic identification of heavy minerals and detrital apatite and titanite U-Pb geochronology. The resulting multi-parameter dataset enables the reconstruction of tectonic and paleogeographic environments to an as-yet unprecedented accuracy in space and time. The Paleogene siliciclastic formations of our study area, the Transylvanian Basin, represent an intensely changing sedimentary environment comprising three transgressive–regressive cycles on a simultaneously moving and rotating tectonic plate. We identified six major source components of the Paleogene sediments and outlined the paleo-drainage patterns for the three cycles, respectively. According to our data these components include: 1) pre-Variscan basement units of the nappes, 2) Variscan granitoids, 3) Permo-Triassic felsic volcanic rocks, 4) Jurassic ophiolites, 5) Upper Cretaceous granodiorites, and 6) Priabonian to Rupelian (37–30 Ma) intermediate magmatites, the latter representing newly recognized formations in the region. Abrupt paleographic changes can be directly deduced from the obtained dataset. The first phase of the Paleogene siliciclastic sequence is composed of mostly Southern Carpathian–derived sediments, to which Jurassic ophiolite detritus of the Apuseni Mts. was added during the second phase, while the siliciclastic material of the third phase represents mainly recycled material from the second phase. According to the detected diagnostic heavy-mineral associations, U-Pb age components and the positions of the potential source areas a set of provenance maps are presented.

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