Well-documented Mediterranean examples of Miocene carbonate platforms, with complete exposures from shallow-water to basinal facies, provide evidence for temporal changes in reef-building capacity of zooxanthellate corals. In pre–late Tortonian platforms, small coralgal patches and mounds occur from platform top to the toe of slope, but they did not build to sea level. In contrast, barrier reefs with unequivocal reef-crest structures that reached sea level are documented in late Tortonian–early Messinian platforms. We suggest that a change in both calcification rates and bathymetric zonation was the result of coevolution of corals and Symbiodinium zooxanthellae, coeval to global cooling and, at least at a regional scale, a geochemical change that supported widespread aragonite precipitation through the late Miocene.

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