Sand deposits on southern insular shelf of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, were investigated to determine their origin, environmental processes and accumulation rates. Sea-floor samples show that the sand has been derived (in situ) mainly from calcareous algae and molluscs. Zonation of the dominant sand producers is related to the present environmental setting; water depth has the greatest influence. Carbon-14 data (bulk sample) of cores indicate accumulation rates of slightly less than 1 mm/year for the last 5,000 years. Faunal studies show that the climate has remained constant over the past 5,000 years. The only changes in environmental conditions appear to have been an increase in water depth, changes in the patterns of water movement, and an increase in water temperature.--Modified journal abstract.