Rhythmites in pelagic sediments can include information on paleoclimate and with orbital cycles. This paper documents and interprets an unusual rhythmic succession from a cool-water shallow-marine shelf that includes features of Mediterranean-type ramps and open-ocean-type ramps. In the subsiding southwestern margin of the Guadix Basin (southern Spain, Betic Cordillera), during the late Tortonian, a 640-m-thick succession was deposited over a short period (7.8–7.2 Ma). This succession contains 30 sedimentary packages or rhythmites, each defined by two facies associations: a mixed cross-stratified siliciclastic–skeletal sandstone and a homogeneous marl rich in planktonic foraminifera. Sandstones ranging in thickness from 3 m to 20 m contain coralline algae, bivalves, bryozoans, benthic foraminifera, echinoids, and brachiopods (typical temperate-water shelf biofacies). These units exhibit cross-strata sets up to four meters high, interpreted to have been produced by strong unidirectional currents. The marly deposits range in thickness from 2 to 17 m and contain an association of cold-water planktonic foraminifera as well as thin sandstone layers that exhibit normal grading corresponding to typical incomplete Bouma sequences or a lower division with planar lamination and an upper division of very fine- to fine-grained sandstone with hummocky and swaly cross-stratification. On the basis of the sedimentary structures, the sandstone layers are interpreted as sporadic turbidity flows and storm ebb–surge deposits.
On the basis of the sedimentary structures, the hydrodynamic conditions during deposition of the mixed siliciclastic–carbonate interval were high-energy. Based on sedimentary and biogenic features of the rhythmites and their temporal durations (ca. 20 ka), rhythmicity is interpreted to reflect alternating cool-wet and cold-dry climate episodes driven by precession orbital cycles. This occurrence of alternating mixed carbonate–siliciclastic sedimentation and pelagic sediments represents a unique occurrence in the geologic record.