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Miocene carbonates are a rich but largely untapped source for general models of carbonate stratigraphy, paleoecology, diagenesis and hydrocarbon exploration. Lower and Middle Miocene reef carbonates display an ample worldwide distribution (Fig. 1A), surpassing the modern reef belt (Fig. 1B). In contrast, Upper Miocene reefs are remarkably restricted (Fig. 1C), reflecting the well-known global-cooling trend during Miocene times. The Mediterranean regions, which we define to include the entire Mediterranean Sea plus the Paratethys, Red Sea and nearby Atlantic areas, include a wide variety of Miocene carbonates and some of the world's best outcrops.

In terms of quality of outcrops and field control, Miocene carbonates of Mediterranean regions equal or surpass those of the Devonian of the Canning Basin of Australia, the Permian Capitan reef of Texas and New Mexico, the Triassic of the Dolomites of Italy or the Lower Cretaceous in the Vercors of France. In some aspects, Miocene carbonates in Mediterranean regions offer significant advantages over those world-famous examples currently used as stratigraphic models, because: 1. Mediterranean-region reef complexes occur in a wider variety of structural and depositional settings, with better potential to evaluate the relative influence of the different tectonic, sedimentologic, hydrographic, climatic, ecologie and eustatic controls on facies patterns and geometries. 2. Miocene carbonates of Mediterranean regions offer better stratigraphic resolution, a plus for the study of high-frequency stratigraphic cycles. 3. The similarity with modern carbonates facilitates detailed analysis of depositional facies and ecology. 4. At various times and places during Miocene deposition in Mediterranean regions, carbonates developed as tropical coral reefs, temperate ramps or variations in between the two. A wider variety of platform styles occurs including non-rimmed platforms, rimmed platforms some with deeper-water mounds and platforms consisting of oolite shoals and stromatolites.

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