Detailed information about the course

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Modern and Fossil Coral Reef Ecosystems in the Florida Keys, Florida, USA


28.05. to 06.06.2023

Responsable de l'activité

Elias Samankassou


Prof. Elias Samankassou, UNIGE


Prof. Daniela Basso, University of Milano, IT;

Prof. Gregor Eberli, University of Miami, US;

Dr. Chiara Pisapia, The Hong Kong University of Technology;

Prof. Michael Martinez-Colon, Florida A&M University, US;

Prof. Peter Swart, University of Miami, US


A fundamental part of the course activity will be at the Key Marine Laboratory (KML), managed by the Florida Institute of Oceanography and the Keys Marine Laboratory, in Layton, Florida Bay ( The KML will provide accommodation, laboratory facilities and boats for excursions. The aim of the course is to provide the participants with a practical and theoretical overview on some relevant aspects on of one of the richest and more interesting tropical marine ecosystems in the world: the coral reefs. The students will learn the basic methodologies of reef research, benthic habitat will be surveyed by snorkeling and diving to identify and describe all elements characterizing the substrate.

The fossil reef environment counterparts will be the focus of one-day excursion guided by Gregor Eberli, representing a unique opportunity to compare the modern environment investigated in the first part of the course to their Quaternary counterparts in outcrops, displaying partly the same biotic composition. Sites to be visited include the Islamorada (Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park; In addition, we will visit other depositional environments of the Florida Bays known to display facies often used as analogues for the ancient carbonate platforms.

We also plan to visit the cores collected during the Bahamas Drilling Project consisting mostly of Cenozoic carbonates. The core presentation will be led by Peter Swart, who published fundamental work on this material, in particular on diagenesis and its impact on geochemical proxies. As done in a previous CUSO course we will follow the approach Training Through Research. This CUSO course will also benefit from additional funding from Swiss National Science Foundation, as part of the project RESILIENCE (Ref. 200020_201106), which aims to assess the magnitude and frequency of interglacial periods characterized by abnormally high temperatures that may have caused coral bleaching in the past. Four of the teachers of the proposed CUSO course are partners of the SNSF project.


Key Marine Laboratory (KML), Florida Keys, US


You all need to be at the airport in Miami on 28 May in the afternoon. From there, you will have the transfer to Layton at the Key Marine Laboratory. On June 6, you will have a morning transfer from Layton to Miami airport and can leave Miami in the evening. Please book your flights accordingly, that you meet the transfers to Layton!


Please bring for yourself snorkelling equipment (mask, fins, snorkel, gloves), neoprene/shorty, sun protection!


You have to book and cover the flight costs to and from Miami, Florida yourself. All other costs (accomodation, meals, transfers, boat trips) will be covered by CUSO.

There may be the possibility to (partly) cover the flight costs - please keep the original travel documents until the end of the year! Further information will follow ccordingly.



Deadline for registration 15.03.2023
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