Field Trip to the Bahamas
February 12th - 22nd, 2016
This field course was held during winter reading week on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. It was taught by Professor Tim Patterson (Carleton University) and Professor André Derochers (University of Ottawa), with significant contributions from Dr. Jessica Pilarczyk of the University of Southern Mississippi. Student enrolment was roughly equal from both institutions, with one additional student from USM participating as well. Students and Faculty stayed at the Gerace Research Center, which was previously a naval base. It was converted over 40 years ago into an educational and research institution.
The primary objectives of this course were:
1) To study reefal environments that are used to carry out sea-level reconstruction and determine environmental response;
2) To study characteristic organisms and sedimentary features associated with reefs, marshes, sandbarriers, lagoons, mangroves, and karst features including sinkholes and caves; and
3) To learn sedimentological field techniques.
Assignments consisted of:
1) analysis of sediments from various environments (e.g. modern and fossil reefs, sand barriers, lagoons, lakes, mangrove karst features, sinkholes, caves, etc.) in the lab;
2) field exercises to carry out sea-level reconstruction, both in Holocene and Eemian/Sangamon sediments;
3) coring of coastal lakes to carry out paleolimnological analysis with emphasis on recognition of paleo-hurricane deposits;
4) field exercises to assess the impact of the Hurrican Joaquin, which devastated parts of the island in October 2015.
Snorkeling and/or scuba diving were an integral part of the course. Those who were not scuba certified were given the opportunity to do so for an additional fee. The course culminated in group presentations of the students' field projects and results.