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Navassa Island Field Trip

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Location of Navassa Island
Location of Navassa Island in the northern Caribbean.
Bob Halley visited Navassa Island on board the vessel Quest. As he traveled back to Santo Domingo along the south coast of Haiti, his comments en route were, "I was ready. My time (three weeks) on Navassa was well spent. We found enough vertebrate fossils (land turtle, small lizard, iguana, crocodile, land snails) in Navassa phosphorite to conclude that the phosphate is a terrestrial deposit and not marine. This suggests the island has been an island for 4-5 million years and was not flooded during the Pliocene, the age of the phosphate. But like the last trip, conditions on the island were tough. This is my last trip. I now have enough material for a 'geology of Navassa' report and to make a report to Interior on the state of the 'coral reefs'."

Bob also got in a couple of dives with Don Hickey and had a good look at the 'reefs'. He adds, "As suspected, there are only corals growing on rocks (Miocene dolomite) and no real coral reefs. The coastline appears to be very high energy, and the coral fauna is dominated by encrusting forms with branching corals growing only in the more protected portions of the island. Even there, they appear to be periodically removed by storms."

Navassa is under consideration as a fish and wildlife refuge by the Fish & Wildlife Service pending a contamination survey.

There is concern about debris left by the years of mining, lighthouse construction, and occupation of the island. It is clear that the island is more heavily utilized by Haitian fishermen than previously thought.

Bob is a member of a multidisciplinary team documenting fish, insects, corals, geology, and plants on Navassa. For more information, periodic dispatches have been posted on the Discovery Channel Web site.

Related Web Sites
Navassa Island: A Photographic Tour
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Destination Navassa
The Discovery Channel

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