Study Abroad in the Bahamas (Geology 375 and H375) General Information

Course Offering: We will be in the Bahamas from May 18 through 25, 2013, which is during Minimester A. Online assignments to help prepare for the field study will be due by May 17. Registration for the course will begin during Fall Semester 2012. Application and deposit are due in the Study Abroad Office by February 1, but applications after the deadline will be accepted as spaces remain. See How to Register and Cost for more information.

Credits: 3 credit hours

Pre-requisite: One course in any science.

Course Instructor: Dr. James W. Castle (jcastle@clemson.edu or 864-656-5015), Professor, Department of Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, Clemson University

Geology 375 emphasizes both science and culture through an international field experience. Students learn about ocean processes by visiting marine environments and about the culture and history of another country. The third longest barrier reef in the world is examined. Students visit a Bahamian village, observe traditional woodcarving, tour a local clothing factory, and visit historical and cultural sites. Students spend one week at Forfar Field Station on Andros Island in the Bahamas. Specific sites visited may vary depending on weather and tides.

About Andros Island
Andros Island is 104 miles long and the largest island in the Bahamian archipelago. The geology of Andros has been studied extensively as an example of carbonate sedimentation. There are no cities, no American fast food restaurants, and few distractions from the spectacular natural features. The island is sparsely populated. Visibility in the waters off the windward coast of Andros is seldom less than 80 feet and commonly exceeds 150 feet. Water temperature throughout the year ranges from approximately 72 to 78 degrees.

We plan to visit the following marine environments on Andros Island:

Andros Barrier Reef is over 100 miles long along the eastern edge of Andros Island. It is the third longest barrier reef in the world and one of the least disturbed. Skeletal sands with localized patch reefs are present in a 2-mile wide back-reef area.

Joulterís Cay is a shoal complex of agitated, clean ooid sands on the windward-facing margin of Andros. A broad sand flat penetrated by numerous tidal channels is present immediately behind the active sand flat.

Andros Tidal Flats are laterally extensive accumulations of carbonate mud along the western edge of Andros in an area generally protected by the island from tidal currents and prevailing winds. The tidal flats contain numerous lakes and lagoons and are locally cut by tidal channels.

The following cultural and historic sites on Andros Island will be visited:

Red Bays is a friendly Bahamian village on the west side of Andros. Woodcarvers and basketmakers sell their products here.

Blanket Sound School is a traditional one-room Bahamian school that is being converted to a sustainable habitat and cultural center. Environmentally acceptable and effective methods of waste recycling and water reuse are demonstrated.

Morgan's Bluff and Nichollstown are very interesting for their history and impact on the Bahamian economy. Every day millions of gallons of freshwater are shipped from this area to supply water needs of the tourist industry in Nassau, which raises important issues concerning water use and sustainability. There is interesting history about pirates at Morgans Bluff. The Fossil reef is at Nichollstown.

Androsia Factory is one of the most important industries on Andros. Cloth is dyed and sewn into clothing, which is shipped to Nassau.

About Forfar Field Station
Forfar Field Station, which is situated on the beach on the windward side of Andros, has been owned and operated for educational and research purposes since 1973 by International Field Studies (IFS). Forfar provides room, board, van and boat transportation, and other logistical support. Facilities include cabins (with bathrooms) and a main building with kitchen, dining hall, classroom, laboratory/library, lounge, office, and a small darkroom. Meals are prepared and served by IFS staff; field-trip participants assist with clean-up.

IFS is a non-profit, educational, and scientific organization established to promote and assist educators with field-study programs.

Other Information
Although not required, snorkeling on the field trip is recommended because of the many features and processes that can be observed more closely. Each participant who will be snorkeling needs to bring a mask, snorkel, and fins. If you do not already have this equipment, you will need to borrow or purchase it if you plan to snorkel. Prices for a snorkeling set (including mask, snorkel, and fins) begin at about $32 at most major sporting goods stores. Previous snorkeling experience is not required, but it would be helpful if you first try out the equipment in a local pool or lake before the field trip. The field station will provide a snorkeling vest. Bringing an underwater disposable camera is also recommended.

Click here for descriptions and photographs of some of the places that we plan to visit.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jim Castle at jcastle@clemson.edu

This page was last updated on October 26, 2012. Maintained by Dr. James Castle.