Abstract

The program of investigations made in connection with the atomic bomb tests in the summer of 1946 at Bikini Atoll provided a rare opportunity for obtaining information on the physiography and sediments of atolls. The outer slopes around Bikini Atoll rise from a depth of about 2500 fathoms in a long gradually steepening curve. Between 0 and 200 fathoms the average slope is 25°. On the windward side, the reef at the top of the slope is bordered by a narrow 15-fathom terrace, but on the leeward side by a steep, locally vertical, cliff extending to 35 fathoms. Contours of the outer slopes reveal that a flat-topped mass having nearly the area of Bikini lagoon but below 700 fathoms extends to the northwest. The lagoon itself is saucer-shaped and has a maximum depth of 34 fathoms. Around the lagoon and bordering the inner side of the reef and islands is a 12-fathom terrace. Coral knolls rise abruptly from the lagoon floor, and some of them reach to within a few fathoms of the surface. The middle of the lagoon is floored chiefly by algal debris, whereas the shallow edges are covered by algal and foraminiferal sand. Coral comprises a relatively small percentage of the bottom materials. The outer slopes consist of algal debris grading outward to fine sand and finally to Globigerina sand.

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