Platform carbonates are among the most voluminous of Cretaceous deposits. The production of carbonate platforms fluctuated through time. Yet, the reasons for these fluctuations are not well understood, and the underlying mechanisms remain largely unconstrained. Here we document the long-term trend in Cretaceous carbonate platform preservation based on a new data compilation and use a climate-carbon cycle model to explore the drivers of carbonate platform production during the Cretaceous. We show that neritic carbonate preservation rates followed a unimodal pattern during the Cretaceous and reached maximum values during the mid-Cretaceous (Albian, 110 Ma). Coupled climate-carbon cycle modeling reveals that this maximum in carbonate deposition results from a unique combination of high volcanic degassing rates and widespread shallow-marine environments that served as a substrate for neritic carbonate deposition. Our experiments demonstrate that the unimodal pattern in neritic carbonate accumulation agrees well with most of the volcanic degassing scenarios for the Cretaceous. Our results suggest that the first-order temporal evolution of neritic carbonate production during the Cretaceous reflects changes in continental configuration and volcanic degassing. Geodynamics, by modulating accommodation space, and turnovers in the dominant biota probably played a role as well, but it is not necessary to account for the latter processes to explain the first-order trend in Cretaceous neritic carbonate accumulation in our simulations.

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