The Gerace Research Center

This was the official website for the Gerace Research Center for a number of years.
Content is from the site's 2002 - 2003 archived pages.

The current web site for the Gerace Research Center is: or go to their facebook page


Gerace Research Center

San Salvador, Bahamas

(formerly the Bahamian Field Station) 


Center for the study of Archaeology, Biology, Geology, and Marine Science


The Gerace Research Center (GRC,formerly the Bahamian Field Station) is located on the shore of Graham's Harbour on the north coast of SanSalvador. The center has been in operation since 1971 and offers facilities for students, professors, and researchers from around the world to study in a tropical environment.



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The GRC has 15 buildings on 8 acres of land that provide:

  • Accommodation for ~ 200 people
  • Motel-type rooms for faculty, most with WiFi access and available air conditioning
  • Semi-private rooms for graduate students
  • Dormitory housing for undergraduate students
  • Full service Cafeteria serving three meals daily (including vegetarian dishes)
  • 10 Laboratory / Classrooms , 5 with air conditioning 
  • 2 Large Lecture Rooms with air conditioning
  • A Library with air conditioning, computers, and internet access
  • A Specimen Repository
  • A Wet Lab w/ sea water aquaria
  • Basketball and Volleyball courts

Map of the Gerace Research Center campus

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Gerace Research Center Power Boat


San Salvador Island


The Bahama Islands - Click to Enlarge
Map of the Bahamas Archipelago

 San Salvador is one of the 700 islands that make up the Bahamas Archipelago located along the subsiding continental margin off the coast of Florida. While the entire archipelago extends 1,400 km north to south, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is approximately 1,126.5 km from Grand Bahama to Inagua, the southernmost island.

    San Salvador is located about midway down this archipelago chain at 24 3’N latitude and 74 30’W longitude, approximately 640 km southeast of Miami, Florida. It is a pod shaped island with a north-south orientation which is surrounded by over 4,000-m-deep Atlantic waters.

        San Salvador is approximately 11.2-km east west and 19.25-km north south, not including the offshore cays to the north or southeast. The island has 94.9 square km of surface area, most of which consists of dune ridges, with adjacent troughs forming brackish (hypersaline) lakes that constitute nearly a third of the total area. A series of fringing reefs surrounds the island, with a break in the vicinity of Cockburn Town on the west coast. This breach in the reef provides access to the island for shipping, dockage, and mooring during normal weather patterns.


San Salvador Island - Click to Enlarge

Map of San Salvador Island

Rainbow at the BFS

Beautiful Rainbow After Rain Storm

Eroded Shoreline

Eroded Shoreline in Pigeon Creek


  The moderating effect of the Antilles Current flowing past San Salvador, cools the island in the summer when temperatures range from 22 to 32 degrees C, and warms it in the winter when temperatures range from 17 to 27 degrees C. Annual rainfall for San Salvador averages 100 cm. Cold fronts from the north bring winter rains, and summer rains result from convection.


     The major rainy season is from September to November, caused by tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes. All of these weather conditions are unpredictable and produce years either with less than average rainfall, or heavy rains that wash away exposed soils. Bahamian soils generally are shallow, poorly developed, and retain very little water.


         It was probably San Salvador upon which Columbus and his crew first set foot in the New World. As described by Columbus in his log, the local Indians, called Lucayans, named the island Guanahani. While the Spanish by-passed the Bahamas for more lucrative locations in their quest for gold, the British slowly took possession of this region, making it a crown colony in 1718.

         San Salvador was virtually unaffected by the encroachment of Europeans until American colonists loyal to Britain were forced from the United States and migrated to the Bahamas in 1783. They built impressive estates, using African slaves as labor. The "Loyalist Period" ended in 1834, when the Crown abolished slavery, capping an era that included many unsuccessful years for the planters because of drought, insect infestations, and soil depletion.


Depiction of Columbus' Voyage

Cartoon of Columbus' Three Ships

Watling's Castle

Famous Sandy Point Estate Ruins

Subsistence Farm

Typical Subsistence Farm


1950's US Naval Facility

The Former US Naval Facility


        The descendants of San Salvador’s slaves continued experimenting with agriculture under a sharecropping system throughout the 1800s, raising first citrus and livestock, then pineapples, and finally sisal. All of these large-scale agricultural enterprises apparently came to the same end as those of the Loyalists. Records show that just prior to and after World War I, the lifestyle of San Salvador’s inhabitants was very poor, with everyone existing on subsistence farming.

         Prosperity returned in 1951, with the establishment by the United States of a down-range missile-tracking base, a Coast Guard station, and a submarine tracking facility, all located on San Salvador. The majority of the US military departed the island in the late 1960s, leaving an infrastructure of well-constructed buildings, an electrical power station, and a paved airstrip. These facilities have all been put to good use by the Bahamas Government, housing a Teachers’ Training College for five years, a high school, and the Gerace Research Center. Prosperity has continued for San Salvador with a short-lived land development company in the 1970s and the opening of a Club Med resort in 1992. And children are not only welcome, but there are organized activities for young ones. Kids Place is stocked with games and fun stuff like miniature golf, a merry-go-round, a great playground and an activities manager on site. There is a nice collection of dressup costumes for make believe adventures. Whether the kids are into ghost busters or princess dresses, they'll have a great time playing in the court of the giant cupcakes.

     The local resident population on San Salvador today consists of approximately 1000 persons who live in several small communities around the perimeter of the island. The capital is Cockburn Town, located on the west coast of San Salvador, houses the local government offices, the police, the post office, a telecommunications center, a government clinic, and an electrical utilities company.



     Electricity and telephone service is available to all but the smallest of communities on the southeastern side of the island. The United Estates settlement, located on the northeastern side of San Salvador, is the largest community on the island, and is also the site of the Dixon Hill Lighthouse, a major navigation aid in this section of the Atlantic.



Buildings outside of CockburnTown

Primary Buildings around Cockburn Town

Lighthouse and part of Dixon Hill Settlement

Lighthouse in Dixon Hill Settlement


Conferences at the Gerace Research Center


2004 Geology Conference Group


     Since 1982, the Gerace Research Center has hosted numerous conferences and symposiums. Such conferences provide a venue for the sharing of new knowledge pertaining to ongoing research both on San Salvador and throughout the rest ofthe Bahamas region. Conferences in Archaeology, Biology, Botany, Geology, and Natural History have all been held at the GRC and have attracted both researchers and professors working in the Bahamas and throughout the world.  



Major Conferences held at the GRC


Bullet-bluecircle.gif (911 bytes) Geology Conferences           

Bullet-bluecircle.gif (911 bytes) Natural History Conferences 

Bullet-bluecircle.gif (911 bytes) Archaeology Conferences