Lexy Fowler's Field Research
Together with Associate Professor of Geology and Environmental Sciences David Griffing, and partially funded by a 2008 Angelo Tagliacozzo Memorial Geological Scholarship, Lexy Fowler '09 traveled to the Bahamas to photograph, study, and collect samples from both a modern coral reef and ancient corals in a fossil reef.
Aerial View of Rum Cay, Bahamas
On June 12, 2008, Lexy Fowler '09 and Dr. David Griffing boarded a small charter plane from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas as participants in the 14th Symposium on the Geology of the Bahamas and Other Carbonate-Producing Regions. After passing customs, participants re-boarded the planes for a field trip to tiny Rum Cay.
Examining Rocks on Rum Cay
Conference participants examined the features of limestone that make up the center of Rum Cay. The trip was led by Dr. John Mylroie (left) and Dr. H. Allen Curran (right), who are guiding the examination of quarry exposures from above the quarry wall.
The 14th Symposium was held on San Salvador Island at the Gerace Research Centre from June 12-16, 2008. Conference participants came from many countries. Lexy is located in the 5th row (2nd from right). Dr. Griffing is located in the 6th row (far right, white shirt).
Diving into the Project
After the conference, Lexy and Dr. Griffing stayed at the Gerace Research Center to conduct fieldwork for her Senior Thesis research on modern and ancient reefs containing the coral Porites porites. Here Lexy is learning to identify species of the common reef corals during a snorkel.
Armed with the Tools of Study
Wading through shallow water toward Telephone Pole Reef, Lexy is armed with an underwater digital camera and a dive slate (writing tablet) attached to her forearm to conduct a photo survey of the health of corals on the reef.
Telephone Pole Reef in 2008
These colonies of Porites porites replaced a large stand of "staghorn coral" Acropora cervicornis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, following a disease-related die-off. These replacements are, in turn, dying off as well.
Each coral was carefully photographed for digital area analysis, comparing the percentage of living to dead coral. This colony still has a few branches of living coral (the fuzzy-looking stubs of light gray in the lower central portion of the photograph). The type and quantity of algae overgrowth also was measured.
Dr. Griffing assists Lexy in collecting small samples of the dead coral for later laboratory analysis.
A Time for Tourism
Lexy examines hand-made bags available in the San Salvador Straw Market following a successful day of fieldwork.
Gerace Research Centre
The field station provided transportation, food, lodging, and lab space during the fieldwork. Lexy and Dr. Griffing spent evenings examining and drying the fresh samples before transporting them back to the states.