GEOL 375 -- Bahamian Field Study
Field Activities and
The following is
from a previous Geology 375 trip to the Bahamas. This will give you some
idea of what to expect. However, each trip is unique in the places visited
and the experiences. In the trip described here, there were 19 students and
3 instructors. We swam with the fish, rolled with the ooids,
learned the longshore shuffle, and survived the
mud walk (the highlight of the trip for some participants -- really!).
We stayed at Forfar Field Station on Andros
Island. All of the staff at Forfar were fantastic. The food was great!
activities are described below. Click on the links for photos. If you want
to skip the descriptions, click here to
go directly to a list of the photos.
- Flight to Andros Island – We had a pleasant and
scenic flight to Andros Island after some delays leaving the Ft.
Lauderdale airport. The taxi ride from the airport to the field
station was quite exciting, especially since traffic moves on the
left side of the road in the Bahamas.
- Forfar Field Station – This is where we made
our home while on Andros Island. After arriving at Forfar, we explored the area near the field
station including the adjacent beach and tidal flats. Some did a
practice snorkel, and others played beach volleyball. Forfar is owned and operated by International Field Studies,
which is an educational
and non-profit organization.
Sunday, May 18
Church – Optional activities for
Sunday morning included attending a Bahamian church, exploring the
beach at Forfar, or sleeping in. Most of us
decided to attend the
local Pentecostal church, which provided an interesting cultural and
Grove – After lunch, we headed
to Coconut Grove for a reef snorkel. From shore we snorkeled across
the back-reef area, through a gap between two patch reefs, and on to
the outer reef. We observed abundant and beautiful sea life in this
area. We also did a night snorkel at this location (on another day)
and saw a shark.
Monday, May 19
- Staniard Rock – This was an excellent
snorkel of the Andros barrier reef crest. We took a lot of underwater
photos here. The corals and fish were spectacular! As we snorkeled,
we observed outstanding examples of bedforms
(ripples and dunes) on the seafloor of the backreef
- South Pass – This area provided a
great snorkel of the outer reef. Several reef subenvironments
(and various reef life) were present within
an easy snorkeling distance.
Cay – Here we explored
various features of this cay and the back-reef area including:
sediment trapping sea-grass; rocky intertidal zone with urchins,
barnacles, and other organisms grazing on algae; Pleistocene dunes;
and structural joints in the beachrock.
Some people enjoyed eating the fresh, local seafood (yum -- see
- Calabash Cay – We snorkeled
the mangroves here, which gave us a look at some different sea life.
Young tropical fish live among the mangroves, which provide
protection from predators. We looked for baby seahorses, but didn't
see any. Some people thought they saw "sea snakes," but
found out that they were actually seeing eels, which were very shy
and not dangerous.
Tuesday, May 20
Bays Tidal Flats –
This is where we did the infamous mud walk and was the favorite
experience of the entire trip for some students. After leaving the
road (and civilization), we began our trek by walking through sawgrass and across very crusty microbial mats of
the supratidal flat ("ouch,
crunch"). This provided an outstanding look at the origin of microbially produced lamination in carbonate
sediment. As we gradually moved from the land toward the sea, we
encountered shallow water of the intertidal area and began walking
through algal-produced lime mud ("squish, squish"). Some of
the sediment here consists of peloids
excreted by invertebrates, such as gastropods, that live in the tidal
flat environment. We especially enjoyed crossing a broad, shallow
intertidal creek and experiencing the mud. The mud ate John's sandal.
Nothing can quite equal (or describe) the mud experience. You gotta be there.
Blue Hole –
After the mud walk, we washed off in the fresh water of Charlie's
Blue Hole. The blue holes of Andros have formed by collapse of cave
ceilings. They are fun places to jump in and swim (or just splash
around). Charlie's Blue Hole is 70-feet deep and has cave-like
pockets around the edges.
Wednesday, May 21
- Joulter’s Cays – Joulters
is an area of ooid shoals, bars, and flats
on the windward-facing margin of Andros. This is a very special place
because it's one of only 3 places in the world with active ooid creation and deposition. We drifted (as we
snorkeled) along with the current in a tidal channel and observed subtidal migrating dunes and ripples in ooid sand of the seafloor. We also explored the
broad intertidal areas and examined the various bedforms.
This is a good area for comparing modern processes with sedimentary
structures preserved in the Pleistocene rock forming the cays.
Bluff – This is the highest
point on Andros Island, and caves are accessible here. We learned about
the history of Andros, including the pirates.
Blue Hole –
We had another swim in this blue hole. It's a great place!
Thursday, May 22
- Rat Cay Blue Hole – This is a spectacular
oceanic blue hole, with a lot of fish and finger coral. Many of us
snorkeled all the way around Rat Cay.
Cay – We enjoyed exploring
this cay, especially the very extensive intertidal sand flat. Ripples
and numerous sand dollars were present on the sand flat. Most of the
sediment here consists of coral and algal debris from the reef. We
had planned to also snorkel the Three Rivers Patch Reef, but didn't
because of an approaching storm.
Friday, May 23
Creek – We visited the Androsia batik factory and outlet store in the
community of Fresh Creek. We also walked around the town and did some
- Somerset Beach – This was a great place
to study beach processes, such as longshore
drift. We learned a new step called the "longshore
shuffle", which simulates beach processes. Somerset is a
beautiful beach that stretches for several miles.
Blue Hole –
This is the largest blue hole on Andros -- 440 feet across. It's a
great place to jump in with a 15-foot drop into the fresh water.
Beach – We visited Sundial
Beach at low tide to observe the tidal pools. We saw a variety of
Saturday, May 24
- Flight to
Ft. Lauderdale – After a great week experiencing Andros Island, we
returned to Ft. Lauderdale and began our drive back to Clemson.
Go to GEOL 375 homepage for more information about the
Bahamas field course
to Dr. Castle's homepage
Go to the Department