The occurrence and distribution of deep-ocean ferromanganese nodules are related to the lithology of pelagic surface-sediment, sediment accumulation rates, sea-floor bathymetry, and benthic circulation. Nodules often occur in association with both biosiliceous and pelagic clay, and less often with calcareous sediment. Factors which influence the rather complex patterns of sediment lithology and accumulation rates include the supply of material to the sea-floor and secondary processes in the deep ocean which alter or redistribute that supply. The supply is largely controlled by: 1) proximity to a source of alumino-silicate material and 2) primary biological productivity in the photic zone of the ocean. Primary productivity controls the 'rain' to the sea-floor of biogenic detritus, which consists mostly of siliceous and calcareous tests of planktonic organisms but also contains smaller proportions of phosphatic material and organic matter. The high accumulation rate (5 mm/1000 yr) of sediment along the equator is a direct result of high productivity in this region of the Pacific. Secondary processes include the dissolution of particulate organic matter at depth in the ocean, notably CaCO3, and the redistribution of sedimentary particles by deep-ocean currents. -J.M.H.