Our Mission

 Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory seeks fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world. Its scientists study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean, providing a rational basis for the difficult choices facing humanity.

Lamont-Doherty is a core component of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, which brings together people and tools to address some of the world’s most challenging problems from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources.  More than 120 Ph.D. level researchers work and teach at Lamont-Doherty; 80-90 graduate students are involved in research and a growing number of undergraduates participate in summer internships.  Lamont-Doherty also operates a federally-funded research ship, the Marcus G. Langseth, which uses seismic data to map the sub-seafloor, highlighting hidden faults and other earthquake hazards.

Since its founding in 1949, Lamont-Doherty has been a leader in the earth sciences. Its scientists were the first to map the seafloor and develop a computer model that could predict an El Nino weather event, the first to provide concrete proof for the theory of plate tectonics and to reveal the oceans’ role in triggering abrupt climate change. With each year, our understanding of earth improves. Yet, new discoveries await us. It is that next insight on the horizon that keeps our researchers excited to learn more about how and why earth changes as it does.