1. Morphology and sedimentation The deepest parts of the Persian Gulf lie off the Iranian coast. Several swells separate the Persian Gulf into the Western Basin, the Central Basin and the Strait of Hormuz, which leads without noticeable morphological interruption onto the Biaban Shelf; the latter gradually drops off towards the continental slope, which itself has a strongly subdivided morphology. The sediment distribution in the Western Basin runs parallel to the basin's axis to a depth of 50 -60 m. This is caused by the shallow and uniform slope of the Iranian coast into the Western Basin, by clear exposure of the area to the Shamal-Winds and by tidal currents parallel to the basin's axis. Most other parameters also show isolines parallel to the coast line. Data from the sediment analyses show a net transport which extends out along the Central Swell: coarse fraction > 63 ?, total carbonate content, carbonate in fine fractions < 2 ?, 2-6 ? and 20-63 ?, calcite-aragonite ratios in the fine fractions 2-6 ? and 20-63 ? and quartz-dolomite ratios in fine fraction 2-6 ?. At least the uppermost 10-40 m of this sediment is late Holocene. This implies sedimentation rates of several meters per 1000 years. The slope from the Iranian coast into the Central Basin (max. depth 100 m) is generally steeper, with interspersed islands and flats. Both facts tend to disturb a sediment dustribition parallel to the basin's axis over extensive areas and may preclude any such trend from being detected by the methods and sample net used. The spatial distribution of the coarse fraction, however, seems to indicate sediment transport at greater water depths perpendicular to the basin's long axis and along the steepest gradients well into the Central Basin. The flats of the Central Basin have a sediment cover distinctly different from those of the deeper basin areas. Characteristic parameters are the extremely high percentages of coarse grained sediments, total content of carbonate CO2 over 40, low total organic carbon content, (however values are high if calculated on the basis of the < 63 ? fraction), low total N-content, and low C/N ratios. These characteristics probably result from the absence of any terrigenous material being brought in as well as from exposure to wave action. Finest terrigenous material is deposited in the innermost protected part of the Hormuz Bay. In the deep channel cut into the Biaban Shelf which carries the Persian Gulf out-flow water to the Indian Ocean, no fine grained sediment is deposited as shown by grain size data. 2. Geographic settings and sedimentation Flat lands border the Arabian coast of the Persian Gulf except for the Oman region. The high and steep Zagros Mountains form the Iranian coastline. Flat topography in combination with generally low precipitation precludes fluviatile sediment being added from the South. Inorganic and biogenic carbonates accumulating under low sedimentation rates are dominant on the shallow Arabic Shelf and the slopes into the Western and Central Basins. The fluviatile sediment brought in from the Iranian side, however decisively determine the composition of the Holocene sediment cover in the Persian Gulf and on the Biaban Shelf. Holocene sediments extend 20-30 km seaward into the Western Basin and about 25 km on to the Biaban Shelf. As mentioned before, sedimentation rates are of several meters/1000 years. The rocks exposed in the hinterland influence the sediments. According to our data the Redbeds of the Zagros Mountains determine the colour of the very fine grained sediments near the Iranian Coast of the Persian Gulf. To the West of Hormuz, addition of carbonate minerals is particularly high. Dolomite and protodolomite, deposited only in this area, as well as palygorskite, have proven to be excellent trace minerals. To the East of Hormuz, the supply of terrigenous carbonates is considerably lower. Clay minerals appear to bring in inorganically bound nitrogen thus lowering the C/N ratio in these sediments especially off river mouths. 3. Climate and sedimentation The Persian Gulf is located in a climatically arid region. This directly affects sedimentation through increased wind action and the infrequent but heavy rainfalls which cause flash floods. Such flash floods could be responsible for transporting sedheats into the Central Basin in a direction perpendicular to the Gulf's axis. Eolian influx is difficult to asses from our data; however, it probably is of minor importance from the Iranian side and may add, at the most, a few centimeters of fine sediment per 1000 years. 4. Hydrology and sedimentation High water temperatures favor inorganic carbonate precipitation in southern margin of the Gulf, and probably on the flats, as well as biogenic carbonate production in general. High evaporation plus low water inflow through rivers and precipitation cause a circulation pattern that is typical for epicontinental seas within the arid climate region. Surface water flows in from the adjoining ocean, in this case the Indian Ocean and sinks to the bottom of the Persian Gulf mainly in the northern part of the Western Basin, on the "Mesopotamischer Flachschelf" ard probably in the area of the "Arabischer Flachschelf". This sinking water continually rejuvenates the bottom out-flow water. The inflowing surface water from the Indian Ocean brings organic matter into the Persian Gulf, additional nutrients are added by the "fresh" upwelling waters of the Gulf of Oman. Both nutrients and organic matter diminish very rapidly as the water moves into the Persian Gulf. This depletion of nutrients and organic matter is the reasonfor generally low organic carbon contents of the Persian Gulf sediments. The Central Swell represents a distinct boundary, to the west of which the organic carbon content are lower than to the east when sediment samples of similar grain size distribution are compared. The outflow carries well oxygenated water over the bottom of the Persian Gulf and the resulting oxidation further decreases the content of organic matter. In the Masandam-Channel and in the Biaban-Shelf channel, the outflowing water prevents deposition of fine material and transports sediment particles well beyond the shelf margin. The outflowing water remains at a depth of 200-300 m depending on its density and releases ist suspending sediment load to the ocean floor, irrespectative of the bottom morphology. This is reflected in several parameters in which the sediments from beneath the outflow differ from nearby sediments not affected by the outflowing water. High carbonate content of total samples and of the individual size fraction as well as high aragonite and dolomite contents of individual size fractions characterize the sediment beneath the outflowing water. The tidal currents, which avt more or less parallel to the Gulf's axis, favor mixing of the water masses, they rework sediments at velocities reported here. This fact enlarges to a certain degree the extent of our interfaces which are based on only a few sample points (Persian Gulf and Biaban Shelf one sample per 620 km**2, continental slope one sample per 1000 km**2). The water on the continental slope shows and oxygen minimum at 200-1200 m which favors preservation of organically-bound carbon in the sediment. The low pH-values may even permit dissolution of carbonate minerals.