Orbitally forced cyclic variations in sedimentary sequences provide evidence for short-term fluctuations of Earth climate and a tool for high-resolution timescale calibration. We here present stratigraphic and geochronological evidence for precession-forcing in Middle Triassic hemipelagic limestones of the Buchenstein Formation (Dolomites, northern Italy). High-resolution stratigraphy of several correlative sections of the Buchenstein Formation documents a coherent cycle pattern. Isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry zircon U–Pb geochronology of tuffs bracketing the cyclic interval reveals an average cycle duration of 18.5 ± 2.1 kyr, consistent with a shorter climatic precession cycle in the Middle Triassic compared with today. This suggests a predominantly precession-controlled climate in this low-latitude setting of the western Tethys and allows high-precision calibration of the Anisian–Ladinian boundary interval. From integrating cyclostratigraphic and U–Pb geochronological constraints, our best estimate for the age of the Anisian–Ladinian boundary is 241.464 ± 0.064/0.097/0.28 Ma. We also provide precise estimates for lithostratigraphic boundaries, biostratigraphic markers and magnetic reversals within the boundary interval. Stratigraphic intervals with elevated sedimentation rate record a sub-Milankovitch signal that may be equivalent to patterns in adjacent carbonate platforms such as the Latemar platform. The origin of this sub-Milankovitch signal remains unknown but highlights the potential to investigate shorter-term climatic variations in Mesozoic sedimentary sequences.

Supplementary material: Isotope dilution thermal ionization mass spectrometry U–Pb and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry trace element data tables as well as the results of the Bayesian age modelling are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3861817.

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