Lamont Weekly Report, March 31, 2017

     Columbia’s Office of Communications is doing a good job at keeping Lamont in the news stories posted on the university’s home web page ( This morning you can find links to a video on Einat Lev’s research on the physics of lava flows; the press release on the paper by Yael Kiro, Steve Goldstein, and Yochanan Kushnir documenting evidence for past episodes of severe aridity in the Dead Sea region; and the announcement of Columbia’s decision to divest from companies that derive more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production, which includes mention of Lamont’s plan to sharply increase reliance on solar power for campus electricity.

     Einat received more good news on Tuesday when she learned that her proposal to Columbia University’s Research Initiatives in Science and Engineering (RISE) program was selected for funding. Einat partnered with Elizabeth Hillman, an Associate Professor in the Departments of Biological Engineering and Radiology and a member of the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, on a project entitled “Predicting volcanic eruptions using real-time 4D+ microscopy of bubble interactions in a solid-liquid mush.” Past recipients of RISE awards at Lamont ( include Ryan Abernathey, Suzana Camargo, Mark Cane, Joaquim Goes, Helga Gomes, Ben Holtzman, Andy Juhl, Peter Kelemen, Christine McCarthy, Ajit Subramaniam, Ray Sambrotto, Heather Savage, Chris Small, Adam Sobel, Marc Spiegelman, Colin Stark, Martin Stute, and Felix Waldhauser, so Einat is in good company!

     Also on Tuesday, Ellen Crapster-Pregont successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on “Constraining the chemical environment and processes in the protoplanetary disk: Perspective from populations of calcium- and aluminum-rich inclusions in Ornans-group and metal-rich chondrules in Renazzo-group carbonaceous chondrites.” Ellen’s committee included her thesis advisor, Denton Ebel, along with Ben Bostick, Terry Plank, Dave Walker, and Jon Friedrich from Fordham University. Congratulations, Ellen!

     From Wednesday to Friday, Lamont hosted a Workshop on Scientific Exploration of SeisMicity and Stress (SEISMS), jointly sponsored by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program and the Southern California Earthquake Center ( The goal of the workshop was “to discuss the scientific merit and practical applications of a field-based investigation into the causes of induced seismicity.” Heather Savage led an international organizing committee, and attendees included former Lamont Director Barry Raleigh and a number of experts in seismology and rock mechanics who have worked on induced earthquakes.

     News coverage over the past week included an article last Thursday in Inverse about Mark Cane’s work on El Niño and its effect on social conflict and extreme weather ( That same day, Radio Ecoshock posted an interview with Peter Kelemen on carbon capture and storage by subsurface mineralization in mantle peridotite ( And Robin Bell was quoted in a Live Science story Wednesday about water flowing uphill beneath an Antarctic ice sheet (

     Tomorrow, Tim Crone and Beizhan Yan will be panelists in a discussion of “SPILL,” a play about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, at the Ensemble Studio Theater on West 52nd Street (, following the play’s matinee performance. Other panelists will include New York Times science writer Henry Fountain and the play’s author and director, Leigh Fondakowski. The play is part of a partnership between the theater and the Sloan Foundation to develop new plays “exploring the worlds of science and technology.”

     In the meantime, today’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by geochemist and paleoclimatologist Jeffrey Severinghaus (, a Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. His lecture is one of an annual series initiated two years ago by Lamont’s Alumni Board to bring a distinguished alumnus or alumna to the campus to meet with students and talk about their latest research. Jeff’s colloquium will address the question “What have we learned about our future from ice core studies of the past?” I hope that you can join me in the audience.