Summer 2006

SCIE 640
Coastal Environments of Vieques, Puerto Rico

O'Connell,Suzanne B.

06/10/2006 - 06/17/2006
Note: Special Schedule -

Off-Campus Site

In this class, we will learn about the tectonic history and examine the ecology of the coastal habitats of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. We will also learn about how the National Forest Service is managing its new acquisition of about two-thirds of this island. Students will learn how to use a hand held GPS systems to locate themselves, make and follow a trail, and transfer the GPS information to a map. We will examine previously collected temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and pH data for three south facing bays and learn how to collect this data with hand held instruments. Depending upon conditions, sediment cores may be taken in different coastal areas to examine the geologic history of this complex island. On the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico you are never far from the sea and undeveloped areas. With two-thirds of the island being part of the Caribbean National Forest, it is an ideal place to study tropical island habitats such as a tropical dry forest, bays, mangrove swamps, and coral reefs, and to discuss costal hazards.

The class will meet once before the trip to discuss logistics and distribute course-reading materials. During the trip, students will be expected to keep field notes and journals and submit them before leaving Vieques. After the course, students will be expected to write a research paper on an in-depth study of some topic related to this course and to present the paper orally. The class will meet once about 3-4 weeks after the trip to present and submit papers and receive previously submitted field note books.

We will stay at the Pelican Beach Villas, a group of vacation rental houses in Vieques; photos and more information about housing will be posted on the GLSP Web site. Everyone will share in cooking and cleaning up after meals. At this base station, we'll have lectures and discussions and it will be the starting point for daily field trips around the island. Participants will be expected to go on moderately strenuous hikes and must be able to swim. Students are encouraged to provide their own hand held GPS units, and bring laptop computers.

Costs for the course include tuition, a housing fee ($300-600, depending on accommodations), and an additional course fee of $950. This fee does not include airfare or transportation between the airport and Pelican Villas, but does include groceries, transportation for course excursions, boat rentals, and a kayaking excursion. Students will need to purchase their own snorkeling gear (renting is an option but the cost is comparable to buying). Students should arrive in Vieques on Saturday, June 10 and the course will end Saturday, June 17. Enrollment is limited to 14. Housing deposits for the course are being accepted now. The housing deposit holds your spot in the course; it is not refundable unless another student takes your place in the course. Your course registration form with full payment for housing, the additional course fee, and the registration fee is due May 26, 2006.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Suzanne O'Connell (B.A. Oberlin College; M.S. SUNY Albany; Ph.D. Columbia University) is associate professor of earth and environmental sciences. Her research focuses on marine geology and continental margin sedimentology, with emphasis on areas in coastal Connecticut, the Caribbean, and Antarctica. The Association for Women Geoscientists named her the 2001 Outstanding Educator. She is the primary or contributing author of over 152 publications, with five in press, most recently: "Connecting urban students with their rivers generates interest and skills in the geosciences," published in the Journal of Geoscience Education. Click here for more information about Suzanne O'Connell.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Field Studies

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 9

Texts to purchase for this course:

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