International Study – Bahamas

420.662.91 Coral Reefs and Caves: The Geology of the Bahamas

December 17, 2016 – January 7, 2017 (See below for online and field dates)

Course Description

This course will present an opportunity to study physical, chemical, and biological processes that operate to produce carbonate platforms (e.g., tides, waves, and the growth of corals), geomorphic processes that operate to further shape carbonate platforms (e.g., ground-water flow, cave development, and soil development), and the environmental impacts of human activities on carbonate platforms. The course consists of a week of intensive study online, followed by a week of field study at the Forfar Field Station on Andros Island in the Bahamas.
Prerequisite: 420.601 Geological Foundations for Environmental Sciences  or permission of the instructor. Note: This course can count toward the residency requirement. It can also count toward concentrations in Ecological Management and Environmental Monitoring and Analysis. Students being instructed for the day in the Bahamas

Course Schedule (Subject to change)
Dec. 17, 2016 Materials will be available online. If students have not taken an online class in Blackboard they must take the online orientation. This extra week will facilitate getting through all of the material before we depart for Andros Island.
Dec. 23, 2016 – Dec. 30, 2016 Online portion of the course is officially open. Students will be required to complete one unit of material each day during this week. This includes one or more lectures and associated readings. Please plan to commit several hours per day to the course during this week.
Friday, Dec. 30, 2016  Students travel to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Travel arrangements and 1-night accommodation will be the responsibility of each student.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 Depart Ft. Lauderdale on charter flights to Andros Island, Bahamas. The field trip fee covers the cost of round trip airfare to the island.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 – Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 Field component of the course at the Forfar Field Station in the Bahamas, operated by International Field Studies. The field trip fee covers all lodging, meals, and use of equipment for course work. You will be required to pay for one dinner out during the week (average cost is less than $30) and any snacks that you want to buy.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 Departure for Ft. Lauderdale, FL and return home.


Kathryn A. Schubel, PhD

Dr. Schubel is co-owner of the Carlsbad Aquafarm, a sustainable shellfish farm located in Carlsbad California. Before moving south to Carlsbad, she was Project Manager and Curator of Content for major exhibits (Catch a Wave, The Gulf of California, and Ocean on the Edge: Top 10 Ocean Issues) at the Aquarium of the Pacific, located in Long Beach, California. She has taught a variety of Geoscience, Oceanography, and Ecology classes to graduate and undergraduate students at a number of different institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, over the last 17 years. She has led field courses to San Salvador and Andros Islands, Bahamas, and designed and led numerous field-based laboratory experiences in the United States. Dr. Schubel has researched deposition, and alteration of modern sediments and ancient rocks around the world. She received her B.A. in Geology from Oberlin College, M.A. in Geoscience from Binghamton University and Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.
Hands holding a starfish.


Excerpts from the International Field Studies website: Forfar Field Station is a rustic former dive resort nestled in a beach front coconut grove on the east coast of Andros Island. The Forfar campus consists of a main lodge, two staff cabins, four guest cabins, and four “motel units.” Guest accommodations are dormitory style with bunk beds. Each cabin and motel unit has its own bathroom with hot water and electricity. Ceiling fan and lights are in each room and sheets, pillows, and blankets are provided. The main lodge at Forfar houses a laboratory, library, classroom, computer room, lounge, dining room, and kitchen. Open in the evening is a snack bar that sells souvenirs, T-shirts, drinks, and candy bars. There is a well equipped laboratory and well stocked library. Breakfast and dinner are served in the dining room and most lunches are eaten picnic style at study sites. IFS ships most food in from Ft. Lauderdale. Menus are set, and usually offer a mix of standard American fare (lasagna, chicken) and a touch of Bahamian cuisine (pigeon peas and rice).

Andros is the largest island of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the fifth largest in all of the Caribbean. It is sparsely populated and has a densely forested inland. Andros does not offer the amenities expected by some visitors. Services such as phone, water, and electricity are still not available everywhere on the island, but are available at the field station. There are no casinos, shows, malls, or fast food chains on the island. There are a few small stores where snack foods and meals can be purchased, but be sure to remember your camera, insect repellent, and bathing suit. Andros is a subtropical island with at least five distinct vegetation zones, a variety of reefs, many species of fish, birds, insects, and some reptiles. The geology of the island is distinctive, with fascinating blue holes and intriguing ooid shoals. The barrier reef runs the full length of the island. The Andros reef is the third largest in the world, second only to Australia and Belize, and is considered by many to be the most diverse and pristine. The reef has both fringing and barrier characteristics and supports a colorful and amazing diversity of life. It offers a tremendous variety of 1-25 foot deep gardens abloom with both hard and soft corals, some of which emerge from the seas at low tide.

International Field Studies suggest these items in your packing list, and for more information about Forfar, please visit the International Field Studies website.


Students should budget the following estimated costs for the course:
$3708 Tuition
$1820 Field Station fee. This is the fee charged to JHU by International Field Studies. It includes round trip transportation from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, lodging, meals, land and water transportation from Forfar field station to field study sites, and use of all field equipment.
$350 Estimated cost of round trip airfare from BWI to Ft. Lauderdale (based on rates posted on the internet on 23 March, 2016). Booking round trip flights to Ft. Lauderdale is the responsibility of the individual student. DO NOT PURCHASE PLANE TICKETS UNTIL AAP CONFIRMS WITH YOU THAT THE COURSE WILL RUN.
$125 Estimated cost of one nights lodging in Ft. Lauderdale and all transfers in Ft. Lauderdale. Note: the IFS flight to Andros Island leaves very early in the morning on December 31st; therefore, you must fly into Ft. Lauderdale on the evening of December 30th. Details of where to meet for departure to Andros Island will be provided. Each student is responsible for making their own reservation and paying for their hotel room for December 30th
$5790 Total estimated cost for the entire course.

Health and Travel Insurance

Well before departure, check with your doctor to see if you need any immunizations before traveling. Immunization information can also be found at the sites for the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization International Travel and Health.

Participants should make sure their health insurance and accident insurance covers them while traveling abroad. Additional coverage can be purchased through a variety of travel insurance options. To compare policies and for further information, visit the travel insurance comparison site at

In addition, Johns Hopkins is a member of International SOS, which covers JHU students and offers medical assistance and emergency assistance. It is a 24 – Hour Worldwide Assistance and Emergency Evaluation Service available for Johns Hopkins University students: International SOS is the world’s leading provider of medical assistance, international health care, security services and outsourced customer care.

Member #11BSGC000019.

For more information of SOS, or to print out a member card, click here.

Important Forms for the Field Study

Emergency Contact Information:

  • Bahamas Forfar Field Station — 242.368.6129
  • International Field Studies Ohio Office — 614.268.9930