The Bahamas Trip Wrap Up and the San Salvador Water Problem

Tuesday morning we ate our final breakfast at the Gerace Research Center.  We headed to the airport with Georgia College and flew to Nassau with them, and there I said goodbye to my classmates, to my friends.  Many of us on the trip graduated a few days prior to our trip, so this blog post is really my last act as a student at Missouri S&T.  We’re all grateful for the opportunity to have such an amazing trip, led by the incomparable Dr. Wronkiewicz. It was a blast from the first day (cave picture) to the last (beach picture).

 Final Lab Group Pic at Beach

We have done a lot while on the island, from the inland lake studies to the coral reefs, but one of the aspects of this class that was the most striking was the lack of water. Freshwater has disappeared from San Salvador Island due to overuse of the resource. The arrival of Club Med in 1994, along with the rise in population in Cockburn Town led to over-pumping, with pump rates increased by 400%. One way we see this is with the blue hole on the island lacking the freshwater lens it historically possessed.  These types of studies using blue holes as well as sea level proxies can tell us about the past environment and help to predict the future. A couple of students, including myself, looked at the biology and paleontology of the island to see how the geology may have affected the biology.  A lot of people just think of mining and oil when they think geology, but this trip really shows that geology is incredibly useful in environmental studies, too!


It has been an incredible trip, and I would urge anyone who has taken a single geology class to look out for Geology 4841 this upcoming spring, as Dr. Wronk always teaches an amazing class, and travel, wherever it may be, is always an opportunity that should be taken advantage of!

All the (snorkeling) dives

(5/23/2015) After we got through the “Death March,” finally it was time for boat diving. We went to the harbor together with a group of Mississippi State geoscience students, got onto the boat sailed by Captain Hogan. After 10 minutes of sailing, we arrived at our first diving site. There was a sunken ship blown up by the U.S. Navy during the battle against Cuba, now it is a wonderful underwater shelter for all the fishes and other kind of creatures. Our second diving site was the drop off; the sea floor suddenly drops from tens to hundreds of feet. Once you passed the wall of shelf, you couldn’t see anything but blue. It was just like the end of the world. We met three friendly sharks there; they seemed causal and mild. Probably it was not meal time yet.

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Diving and Blue Holes

We got to see a prominent karst feature today. The Blue Hole on the island is one of the largest karst features. [Read more…]

Feel the sediment, be the sediment

Yesterday (May 19th), we discovered the slimy, rocky beauty of Storr’s Lake, and tested things like the pH and salinity of the water. We did these things because we want to know more about the microbialites, which are algal mounds, that manage to survive these muddy waters.  In the picture below you can see a microbialite that has been removed from incredibly brown water.  That brown color is caused by organic matter in the water, and not clay as many people first suspect.  In fact there is no clay anywhere on San Salvador Island.



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It’s the first time that I have tried snorkeling; it is totally new to me. I put on my mask, snorkel, fins and life jacket and go! [Read more…]

Two days in the Bahamas

So, we finally have some internet now that we have made it to San Salvador Island. So here is a synopsis of what we’ve done the past two days:

Sunday May 17th:

We stayed at the beautiful Orange Hill Hotel for our only night in Nassau. With the help of our Chinese students we managed to get a wonderful Chinese meal for our first stop in Nassau, followed by checking out flank-margin caves a little ways down the road. The caves are formed by the complex interaction of marine water with the water table that is under the land. After the caves, we hit the beach for some practice snorkeling and swimming before we get to San Salvador. With everyone being so helpful to each other we started to see an improvement in our skills and we’ve been told that the waters that were so difficult in Nassau, were much tougher than most of the places we’ll see on San Salvador. Following a pool session to swap the salt taste for chlorine, we got food at the Orange Hill’s restaurant and got a taste of the local cuisine.



Monday May 18th: [Read more…]