Danube loess stratigraphy - Towards a pan-European loess stratigraphic model

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleContributedpeer-review


  • Slobodan B. Marković - , University of Novi Sad (Author)
  • Thomas Stevens - , Uppsala University (Author)
  • George J. Kukla - , Columbia University (Author)
  • Ulrich Hambach - , University of Bayreuth (Author)
  • Kathryn E. Fitzsimmons - , Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Author)
  • Phil Gibbard - , University of Cambridge (Author)
  • Björn Buggle - , University of Bayreuth, ETH Zurich (Author)
  • Michael Zech - , Chair of Computational Landscape Ecology, University of Bayreuth (Author)
  • Zhengtang Guo - , Chinese Academy of Sciences (Author)
  • Qingzhen Hao - , Chinese Academy of Sciences (Author)
  • Haibin Wu - , Chinese Academy of Sciences (Author)
  • Ken O'Hara Dhand - , University of Leicester (Author)
  • Ian J. Smalley - , University of Leicester (Author)
  • Gábor Újvári - , Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Author)
  • Pál Sümegi - , University of Szeged (Author)
  • Alida Timar-Gabor - , Babes-Bolyai University (Author)
  • Daniel Veres - , Babes-Bolyai University, Romanian Academy (Author)
  • Frank Sirocko - , Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Author)
  • Djordjije A. Vasiljević - , University of Novi Sad (Author)
  • Zdzisław Jary - , University of Wrocław (Author)
  • Anderss Svensson - , University of Copenhagen (Author)
  • Vidojko Jović - , Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Author)
  • Frank Lehmkuhl - , RWTH Aachen University (Author)
  • János Kovács - , University of Pecs (Author)
  • Zorica Svirčev - , University of Novi Sad (Author)


The Danube River drainage basin is the second largest river catchment in Europe and contains a significant and extensive region of thick loess deposits that preserve a record of a wide variety of recent and past environments. Indeed, the Danube River and tributaries may themselves be responsible for the transportation of large volumes of silt that ultimately drive loess formation in the middle and lower reaches of this large catchment. However, this vast loess province lacks a unified stratigraphic scheme. European loess research started in the late 17th century in the Danube Basin with the work of Count Luigi Ferdinand Marsigli. Since that time numerous investigations provided the basis for the pioneering stratigraphic framework proposed initially by Kukla (1970, 1977) in his correlations of loess with deep-sea sediments. Loess-palaeosol sequences in the middle and lower reaches of the Danube River basin were a key part of this framework and contain some of the longest and most complete continental climate records in Europe, covering more than the last million years. However, the very size of the Danube loess belt and the large number of countries it covers presents a major limiting factor in developing a unified approach that enables continental scale analysis of the deposits. Local loess-palaeosol stratigraphic schemes have been defined separately in different countries and the difficulties in correlating such schemes, which often change significantly with advances in age-dating, have limited the number of basin-wide studies. A unified basin-wide stratigraphic model would greatly alleviate these difficulties and facilitate research into the wider significance of these loess records. Therefore we review the existing stratigraphic schemes and define a new Danube Basin wide loess stratigraphy based around a synthetic type section of the Mošorin and Stari Slankamen sites in Serbia. We present a detailed comparison with the sedimentological and palaeoclimatic records preserved in sediments of the Chinese Loess Plateau, with the oxygen isotope records from deep-sea sediments, and with classic European Pleistocene stratigraphic subdivisions. The hierarchy of Danubian stratigraphic units is determined by climatically controlled environmental shifts, in a similar way to the Chinese loess stratigraphic scheme. A new unified Danube loess stratigraphic model has a number of advantages, including preventing confusion resulting from the use of multiple national schemes, a more transparent basis, and the potential to set Pleistocene palaeoenvironmental changes recorded in the Danube catchment area into a global context. The use of a very simple labelling system based on the well-established Chinese loess scheme facilitates interpretation of palaeoenvironmental information reported from the Danube Basin loess sites in a wider more accessible context that can be readily correlated world-wide. This stratigraphic approach also provides, for the first time, an appropriate framework for the development of an integrated, pan-European and potentially pan-Eurasian loess stratigraphic scheme.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-258
Number of pages31
JournalEarth-science reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


Sustainable Development Goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Chinese Loess Plateau, Danube, Europe, Loess, Pleistocene, Stratigraphy