Diatom Court

Diatom Court: The permanent site-specific ceramic installation by Xavier Cortada at Pinecrest Gardens is dedicated to the scientists who use diatoms to help us better understand South Florida’s ecosystems, global climate change and sea level rise. It was sponsored by Pinecrest Gardens and Jessica Cortada and unveiled on Earth Day 2018.[/caption]

Diatoms are water-bound, single-celled symmetrical organisms encapsulated in silica.  They harness the power of the sun to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and are responsible for generating one-third of the air we breathe.

Its shell, all that remains from the diatom that lived in the past, is used by scientists today to see what was as they research crucial environmental issues in the century to come.  Scientists—and artists—can determine the past salinity of water by examining the glass shells of diatoms preserved in sedimentary core samples.

Each diatom species has a different salinity preference, so changes in the mixture of fresh and sea water (driven by sea level and changes in water management) can be inferred from past diatom remains.