The distribution, thickness, and mean grain size of surficial sediments on Sable Island Bank, Middle Bank, and Banquereau, Scotian Shelf, are used to re-evaluate interpretations made by others on mechanisms controlling long-term stability and net transport pathways of surface sand. A Holocene sand-ridge complex, the Sable Island Catena, extends 300 km across Sable Island Bank and Banquereau. This sand-ridge complex, which is up to 50 m thick, formed as a result of Holocene sediment transport on the outer banks and controls the modern-day distribution of bedforms and sediment size. A clockwise circulation of sand centred around Sable Island, which had been proposed as the mechanism maintaining the island, does not take place. Sand is transported from southwest to northeast across Sable Island Bank towards the Sable Island Catena; thereafter, sand is dispersed eastward. "Spillover" of sand from the banks to The Gully is not significant. Sand is trapped in depths less than 100 m. The processes proposed to have formed the Sable Island Catena are barotropic, storm-driven currents and associated sand transport and "fair-weather" dispersion of sand by strong, tidal flows or baroclinic currents, coupled with an abundant supply of sand-size sediment.

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