The mid-Langhian (“Badenian”) flooding fully reconnected the semi-isolated Central Paratethys realm with the Mediterranean and, thereby, drastically changed the middle Miocene paleogeography of Central Europe. Due to the scattered stratigraphic record and scarcity of independent age constraints in some areas, the precise age and underlying mechanism are still debated. We present integrated chronostratigraphic data from five sections in the eastern part of the system to reconstruct the flooding event distal from the strait to the Mediterranean. By applying modern Mediterranean biochronology (planktonic foraminifera and calcareous nannofossils), supplemented by an 40Ar/39Ar age on a tuff, we demonstrate that the widespread open marine settings in the NW Transylvanian Basin were definitely installed after 14.9 Ma (MMi4d biozone), and in most areas before 14.4 Ma. In the marginal study area in the SE Carpathian Foredeep, fully marine conditions likely set in slightly later (14.6–14.4 Ma). There, short-lived marine incursions into the brackish environment occurred since the latest Burdigalian (“pre-flooding phase”). The new ages overlap with the flooding in the majority of the Central Paratethys (~ 14.9–14.4 Ma), and with marine overflow into the Black Sea (14.85 Ma). We suggest that the transgression was driven by subsidence of the Pannonian Basin, by creating accommodation space and diminishing barriers between sub-basins, but was likely enhanced by a global sea-level rise. Finally, we speculate that the scarcity of all calcareous material in the SE Carpathian Foredeep before the mid-Langhian flooding might be related to pulses of nutrient-rich brackish and low pH water from the neighboring Black Sea Basin.
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