Paleoecological and stratigraphic interpretation of the vertebrate faunas in the Süttő Travertine Complex

Numerous fossil remains were found in more than twenty sites of the Süttő Travertine Complex during the last 150 years. The majority of these remains were recovered from fissures of the travertine, but also from the travertine and an overlying loess-paleosoil sequence. The aims of this study were to review the fossil content, to determine the stratigraphical positions of the various vertebrate faunas of Süttő and provide paleoecological interpretation of the periods on the basis of their faunas and floras. In addition, we described new faunas and floras from the sites Süttő 16-20 and provide 14C dates for Süttő 16. On the basis of the new uranium series isotope and optical dating (OSL), the age of the travertine complex is Middle Pleistocene (235±21-314±45 ka, MIS 7-9), while the age of the loess-paleosoil sequence in superposition of the travertine is Middle-Late Pleistocene (MIS 2-MIS 6). In contrast, the fossils of the travertine indicated an older, Pliocene-Early Pleistocene age, and we described a fissure (Süttő 17) and a red clay layer (Süttő 19), which contained mammal faunas of Early-Middle Pleistocene age. These results indicated the existence of older travertine in certain quarries. Sedimentological and OSL data of well-dated layers of the loess-paleosoils sequence (Süttő/LPS) at Süttő allowed a correlation with the layers of Süttő 6. The paleosoil layer in the upper part of the sequence of Süttő 6, was correlated with a pedocomplex of the overlying loess-paleosoil sequence, which was dated to MIS 5c and MIS 5e. The paleoecological analysis of the mammal and mollusc faunas supported former interpretation of Novothny et al. (2011) inferring warm, dry climate during the sedimentation of the upper layers, and more humid climate for the lower layers. However, the fauna of the lower layer indicated cold climate, so here we rather suggest an age of MIS 5d. Dating of the fissure faunas is based on similarity studies. For some faunas we could not use this method, because of too low number of species. On the basis of the species compositions and former interpretations, these faunas originated mainly from sediments that were deposited under cold climatic conditions. Other fissure faunas were dated by AMS 14C, or by correlation with soil layers of Süttő 6. According to these results, most of the fissure faunas can be correlated with different phases of MIS 5, however we found also a younger (MIS 2) and an older (Early-Middle Pleistocene) fissure fauna.

Beside vertebrate sites, two archaeological sites also were described from this area. The one of them was a Palaeolithic fire pit in the road cut of the way, which lead from Süttő to the quarries (Süttő-Diósárok), while the other one was found in a fissure of the northern wall of Diósvölgyi quarry, on the vertebrate site Süttő 1. Vértes's mind the findings from Süttő-Diósárok are Moustérian (Tata Culture). Based on the vertebrate and snail faunas of Süttő-Diósárok and their paleoecological investigations (warm and dry climate, steppe-like vegetation), the tools was collected from the dark brown chernozem-like paleosoil layer of the loess-paleosoil sequence, which luminescence age is 93.7±21.1 ka (MIS 5c). From the small cavity of Süttő 1 were turned up artificial fractured bones and part of these bone fragments were worked by humans. Unfortunately these elaborated bones are wanting. In Vértes’s opinion, these findings perhaps were antecedents of the Tata Culture. The paleoecological investigations of the site's mammalian and mollusc faunas indicated warm, humid climate and forest vegetation, so maybe site Süttő 1 connected with the Eemian interglacial period (MIS 5e).