In a recent paper, Beach and Ginsburg (1980) have revived the concept originally proposed by Newell (1955) and subsequently reiterated by Paulus (1972) that the Bahama Banks are principally coral atolls similar to those in the Pacific. Newell’s original proposal was based primarily on morphology, as he compared the “steep” upper slopes seaward of the Bahamas to Pacific atolls and assumed that only coral reef growth could maintain such slopes.

A steep (∼45°) marginal escarpment does rim the Bahama Banks (Newell and Rigby, 1957). However, this escarpment extends only from the shelf break to a depth of approximately...

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