Multibeam maps and high-resolution seismic images from the Maldives reveal that a late Miocene to early Pliocene partial drowning of the platform was linked to strong sea-bottom currents. In the upper Miocene to Holocene, currents shaped the drowned banks, the current moats along the bank edges, and the submarine dune fields. Bottom currents in the Maldives are driven by the monsoon. It is proposed that the onset and the intensification of the monsoon during the Neogene provoked platform drowning through injection of nutrients into surface waters. Since the late Miocene, topographically triggered nutrient upwelling and vigorous currents switched the Maldives atolls into an aggradational to backstepping mode, which is a growth pattern usually attributed to episodes of rising sea level.

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