Basin dimensions and morphology as controls on amplification of tidal motions (the Early Miocene North Hungarian Bay)



Following the Late Aquitanian sea-level fall, tide-influenced deposition started in the North Hungarian Bay, an embayment in the Paratethys open to the north-east. The relatively narrow, funnel shape of the bay supported amplification of tidal movements, resulting in the generation of strong tidal currents. The length and the depth of the North Hungarian Bay and the connecting seaway through East Slovakia fell into the ‘Tidal Amplification Window’and thus fulfilled the conditions needed for resonant amplification of semidiurnal (M2) tides. Tide-influenced deposits were formed at both sides of the North Hungarian Bay. They reflect dominant currents in opposite directions and of different strengths at either side of the basin. This difference was the result of bottom-tide interactions. Cyclonic (anticlockwise) residual currents were induced above the asymmetrical central depression in the bay and were superimposed upon the tidal currents, producing an anticlockwise, time-and-velocity asymmetrical current system.

The North Hungarian Bay and other examples show that amplification of tidal motions and formation of tide-influenced deposits may occur if basin dimensions pass through the ‘Tidal Amplification Window’. This window represents ideal conditions for resonant or amphidromic amplification of tidal currents. It determines an ideal length/depth or width/depth ratio relative to the wavelength of the astronomical tides. Thus signs of strong tidal influence in fossil basin fills can be used to reconstruct the dimensions (length, depth and width) of such basins.