Bahamas 2011

Participants in the 2011 W. K. Hamblin Global Geology Field Trip (April 25-May 2, 2011) were introduced to the Pleistocene-Holocene carbonate sedimentology and marine ecology of the Florida Keys and the Bahamas.  Although limestone deposition was widespread in Paleozoic and Mesozoic epeiric seas, platform-scale carbonate deposition today is restricted to the south Florida-Bahamas region, the Yucatan, the Arabian Gulf, and Australia. In south Florida, they studied transgressive depositional conditions and sediments across several facies belts ranging from the Everglades to shelf-edge barrier reefs, including supratidal algal flats, restricted marine mudbanks and “lakes”, tidal channels, and outer shelf sand bodies.  Some localities were approached from land, but boat-based snorkeling was part of each day’s itinerary.  Emphasis was placed upon two complementary facets of each environment: 1) the influence of physical and biological processes on the distribution of marine plants and animals, and 2) the relationship between the standing crop of organisms and the type of sediment and sedimentary textures produced in each environment.  Modern features were extrapolated to ancient limestones wherever possible. Three days were spent at the Forfar Research Station on Andros Island, Bahamas studying modern reef facies on the earth’s third longest barrier reef and the origin, sedimentary dynamics, and reservoir properties of ooid shoals at Joulter’s Cay, and  exploring world-class tidal flats on the west side of Andros Island.