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Nassau, Gerace Research Centre, 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.

In 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 A Leslie | | Geology and Environmental Science

Luoie Wurch | | Biology

Ángel Garcia | | Geology and Environmental Science


Housing and accommodations will be at the Gerace Research Centre. Students will be in the undergraduate dormitory.

All meals in San Salvador will be provided as part of the program. They will be either at the cafeteria at the Gerace Research Institute or will be in a packed field lunch provided by the Institute.

Additional Items to Consider

Students must be able to swim and must bring their own mask, fins, and snorkel for observing modern marine environments.

*Students enrolled at JMU full-time in Spring 2022 will pay no additional tuition to participate in a spring break program. The program fee will be the total required cost.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Prerequisites: GEOL 110/115, GEOL 211 or a 220-level GEOL or BIO course, and at least 4 hours of additional lab science, and permission of the instructor.

Sophomore, junior or senior standing, grad students (special permission may be given to students of sophomore status after an interview with the Director)

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application Fee ($40)
  • Short essay
  • Interview with Program Director

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



Program Closed

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


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

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

BIOL 500: 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.


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