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Geology and Ecology of the Bahamas (Spring Break)


San Salvador Island, Bahamas

Program Description

This course explores the geology and marine ecology of the shallow water marine environment by examining the preeminent modern example, the Bahamas platform. Shallow-water carbonate environments were widespread in the geologic past, and a significant volume of the bedrock in North America is from sediment that was deposited in a warm shallow-water environment that was in many ways very similar to that of the modern Bahamian archipelago. The Bahamas provides an excellent model for understanding and interpreting both modern and ancient reefs.

Location Description

The course is based at the Gerace Research Centre on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. On San Salvador you will observe modern reef, beach, and estuarine environments and compare their observations to similar environments preserved in the rock record. Biological processes are ultimately responsible for many of the geological features of the Bahamas, so the course considers the biology of marine organisms in addition to geological topics.


Stephen Leslie | | Geology and Environmental Science
Christine May | | Biology


Accommodations will be provided for through the Gerace Field Station, with all meals being covered in the program fee.

Additional Items to Consider

The plan is for the course to meet once per week for class before Spring Break, 2016 for lecture/lab activities and then to have a required Spring Break trip to San Salvador Island. • Arrive on San Salvador Island (the landfall of Columbus), Saturday, March 5th and spend a week on the island. • The field portion of the class is over March 12th The course will meet at least one additional evening (Likely March 23rd) after Spring Break Cost (subject to “minor changes”): A fee of ~$950 covers transportation to and from San Salvador Island from Nassau; and room & board on San Salvador for 7 days/nights. STUDENTS MUST ARRANGE FOR THEIR OWN TRANSPORTATION TO AND FROM NASSAU (currently ~ $400-600 round trip Washington DC - Nassau). Cost assumes course fills to 16 students.

This course is targeted to any science or science education (including IdLS) majors or minors, and juniors through seniors.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Prerequisites: GEOL 110 or Geol 211 or a 200-level GEOL or BIO course, and at least 4 hours of additional lab science

Application Process

(Program Open)

For this program, students need to complete the online application (a $25 fee required), which includes:

  • Short essay
  • Official transcript required for first-semester transfer and non-JMU students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


GEOL 400: Geology and Ecology of the Bahamas (3 credits)

BIO 400: Geology and Ecology of the Bahamas (3 credits)

BIO 526: Graduate Topics in Biology: Geology and Ecology of the Bahamas (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.