Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) boundary successions record a paucity of carbonate in association with the mass extinction. Here we demonstrate that three globally disparate T-J sections contain volumetrically important early diagenetic carbonate, i.e., carbonate formed soon after deposition of the sediment but commonly ignored as secondary, that contains information about the extinction and may constitute a previously unrecognized pathway in the carbon cycle. Petrographic analyses of unusual carbonate fans from three sites reveal that they grew just below the sediment-water interface, nearly concomitant with primary sediment deposition. Thus, the shallow subseafloor can be a carbonate sink of unknown size, and may be a predictable consequence of ocean acidification where carbonate precipitation first returns within the sediment before recovering in the water column.

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