Abstract Core BAP96-CP, sampled from the deepest part of the Bay of La Paz, Gulf of California, has been analysed sedimentologically taking into account regional climate and oceanography. Laminated sediments at the bottom of the bay are essentially not bioturbated by benthic fauna. A subanoxic condition (O2 < 0·2 mL L−1) inhibits the proliferation of benthic fauna. Within the bay, the relative abundances of terrigenous and biogenic inputs change periodically. The terrigenous input is greater than the biogenic input and apparently experiences larger fluctuations. The terrigenous input dominates in dark laminae, whereas the biogenic input mostly occurs in light laminae. Thus, it is assumed that, down the core, the alternation of dark and light laminae represents cycles in the extent of dilution of the biogenic input by terrigenous input. The terrigenous input into the Bay of La Paz is mostly regulated by pluvial runoff. Thus, its temporal fluctuation follows the periods shown by the regional pluvial regime, particularly the 11·2 year period. This is equal to the frequency of sunspot cycles.