GEO 345 Geology of the Bahamas

Fall 2019



Instructor: Dr. Diana Boyer


Office: 212B Sims                                

Meeting times: W 2-3:15 In Sims 201

plus 12 day field component from Dec 30, 2019-Jan 10, 2020

Office Hours: Tues 9:0-11 and by appointment


Course Goals: This course will provide you with a unique opportunity to explore modern carbonate deposition and directly compare it with ancient carbonate rocks. The physical juxtaposition allows detailed comparison and will provide a more complete understanding of processes and how they are translated into the rock record. From this course, you will be able to identify and describe a range of carbonate sediments and relate them back to depositional environments. This course will also have a service component in which you will explore the variety of anthropogenic waste accumulated on the beaches of San Salvador and the impact of this on the ocean. You will also leave this course with an understanding of the early settlement of the island and the impact that the geology had on its inhabitants.  

Text: Readings will be posted on Blackboard

Equipment: Detailed list of equipment for the field portion of the trip will be provided and discussed in detail before travel.

Attendance: Being in class for every class period is required. Attendance is also directly correlated with performance in this class. If you do need to miss class for any reason, please email me ahead of time with details of why you will miss class. I will do the same.

Code of conduct: Because this course requires international travel, you will not only be representing Winthrop University, but also the United States, so I will expect everyone to act accordingly.  In the class room and especially in the field we will treat each other with respect and stay engaged in the required tasks. 


Grading:This course is S/U. C- and greater earns an S and D+ and lower a U.


            In-class summary paper                                           25%

            Participation                                                              35%

            Final field project                                                      15%

            Field notebook                                                           25%



In-class summary paper-after some background research in class, students will pick a research topic from the Gerace Research Station publications and complete a 3-5 paper summarizing and evaluating the research.  You will also give an in-class presentation on their findings at the end of the semester.


Participation- Participation is essential in this course both in the class and in the field.  Students will be expected to participate in discussions in class and this will contribute toward 15% of the final grade.  Once in the field students will be expected to do more than show up for activities, but to be a real contributor to real time research.  Demonstration of continued engagement and participation through careful observations, asking relevant questions, contributing to discussions with other students and faculty, complete assignments in the lab in the evenings, as well as showing enthusiasm and collegiality will make up the other 20% of this portion of the grade.  Faculty will provide continuous oral feed-back in the field towards these goals.


Final field project-From the numerous lines of original data collected, students will be asked to complete a summary of surface processes in the field.  This short written analysis will be the culmination of 12 day’s worth of work and reflection and will demonstrate the students’ understanding of data interpretation and the dynamics of the San Salvador system.


Field notebook-Students will be required to keep a field notebook in the field.  We will learn how to take detailed and relevant notes and sketches in the field.  Students will be graded on the quality and completeness of their observations and notes.



University Level Competencies: Students in Geol 345 will fulfill Winthrop:


ULC #1: Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems. Winthrop University graduates reason logically, evaluate and use evidence, and solve problems.  They seek out and assess relevant information from multiple viewpoints to form well-reasoned conclusions.  Winthrop graduates consider the full context and consequences of their decisions and continually reexamine their own critical thinking process, including the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. 

Geol 345 students will have unique opportunities inside the classroom and in the field to reason logically, evaluate and use evidence, and solve problems related to Geology and surface processes. They will be assessed on their ability to reach well-reasoned conclusions based on scientific evidence, often original data collected by the students. Students will be able to access data from many sourses (primary data collection, popular media, primary literature) and form well-reasoned conclusions based on detailed analysis of these sources.


ULC #4: Winthrop graduates Communicate effectively. Winthrop University graduates communicate in a manner appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience. They create texts – including but not limited to written, oral, and visual presentations – that convey content effectively. Mindful of their voice and the impact of their communication, Winthrop graduates successfully express and exchange ideas.


Geol 345students will communicate in small group discussions, produce written summaries of arguments (their own and others) in short and longer format, as well as using audio and visual equipment. Students will also give oral presentations to report on previous research in the Bahamas and prepare a video for a popular audience on trash in the ocean.


Students with Disabilities/Need of Accommodations for Access: Winthrop University is committed to providing access to education.  If you have a condition which may adversely impact your ability to access academics and/or campus life, and you require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Accessibility (OA) at 803-323-3290, or, Please inform me as early as possible, once you have your official notice of accommodations from the Office of Accessibility.


The below schedule is subject to change:


Lecture Topics

Aug 21

Introduction to the Bahamas, where are they and what are they made of?

Aug 28

Introduction to sedimentology

Sept 4

Field Geology and sedimentary structures

Sept 11

Carbonate environments

Sept 18

Stratigraphy , measuring a section, field notebooks

Sept 25

Reefs and reef organisms

Oct 2

Discussion of San Salvador research

Oct 9

Grain size and descriptions

Oct 16

Ocean Acidification

Oct 23

Trash in the oceans

Oct 30

Plastic in the waters

Nov 6

San Salvador research

Nov 13


Nov 22

No Class Thanksgiving

Dec 5

Final prep for trip









Tentative schedule of activities on San Salvador-subject to change with weather and mood.





Day 1



Overview lecture


Day 2

North point beach

Dump Reef/East beach

Grain size lecture


Day 3

Monument Beach

Sue Point

Analyze data, project brainstorm


Day 4

East beach

East Beach/ trash

Reef zonation, Critters and guilds lecture


Day 5

Boat trip to Gaulin reef

Rocky Point

Abstract of shell project and what you learned, predictions


Day 6

Fossil reef

walk in town

Facies lecture, abstract comparing modern and recent


Day 7


Ruins-fountain Hill/Light house

Blue planet


Day 8

Grotto beach

Grotto beach-stratigraphic sections

Data processing


Day 9

French Bay

Return to East Beach

Data processing


Day 10

Telephone reef

Sue Point/ trace fossils

Combined beach profile and histograms of means


Day 11

Data synthesis

North Point hike

Out to dinner


Day 12