Abstract Knebel, H.J., 1981. Processes controlling the characteristics of the surficial sand sheet, U.S. Atlantic outer continental shelf. Mar. Geol., 42: 349-368. A review of recent data on the velocity of bottom currents, the frequency of bottom-sediment movement, the kinds and amounts of suspended sediments in near-bottom waters, and the acoustic and sedimentary features of subbottom strata indicates that the characteristics of the ubiquitous sand sheet on the Atlantic outer continental shelf of the United States have been controlled by a variety of past and present processes. Although these processes collectively have had a widespread effect on the characteristics of the sand sheet, the relative importance of each process changes geographically. On Georges Bank, late Pleistocene glaciations along with modern tidal currents and the regional circulation pattern have played a dominant role. On the Middle Atlantic shelf, ancestral rivers, former near-shore processes, and modern wind- and wave-generated currents are important factors. On the South Atlantic shelf, the sediments reflect subaerial weathering, erosion or nondeposition over or near hardgrounds, and the production of biogenic carbonate. Other processes such as the movement of water masses, bioturbation, and bottom fishing probably have affected the sediments in all areas. A knowledge of the various factors affecting the sand sheet is fundamental to an understanding of its general geologic history and to the paleoenvironmental interpretation of ancient sand strata.