May 2016 Archways

A Deep Dive


With funding from its E.H. Watson Fund, the geology department sent 20 majors and faculty members Don Barber, Katherine Marenco, and Pedro Marenco to the Bahamas over spring break to study marine environments and carbonate rocks.

“A central objective of the trip,” Barber explains, “was to observe how marine organisms produce reefs and other types of carbonate mineral material (e.g., shells), and how that material then is transported and deposited in different sedimentary environments.”

Students snorkeled along beaches and cliffs, in lagoons, and over reefs; hiked over former sand dunes now cemented into limestone; explored a limestone cave filled with tidal saltwater; and waded through lakes with water chemistry that gives rise to layered algal rocks (thrombolites) that were common billions of years ago but rarely seen forming today.