Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, August 26, 2016

    This week was punctuated by the magnitude 6.2 earthquake that hit central Italy on Wednesday. A normal faulting event, the quake was located 10 km southeast of the town of Norcia in the central Apennines, and casualties numbered in the hundreds. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the event occurred in a gap between the aftershock zones of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in 1997 and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake near L’Aquila in 2009.

Lamont Weekly Report, July 29, 2016

     Carlos Gutierrez retired today after devoting more than 43 years to Lamont, mostly on our oceanographic ships. Carlos sailed on more than 150 cruises on the R/V Vema, Conrad, Ewing, and Langseth, in addition to work in our machine shop and Office of Marine Operations. His introduction to Lamont’s vessels began in July 1973 when he sailed on the Vema for 13 months in a row, took two months off, and then sailed another 9 months in a row, for 25 cruise legs in all.

Lamont Weekly Report, July 15, 2016

     To those of us striving to improve the stewardship of our planet, the savage acts that lately fill world news reports are deeply disturbing. The tragedies in Dallas and Nice remind us that our species, for all its accomplishments, can commit natural disasters every bit as devastating as those we study in Lamont’s laboratories. We can hope that progress on understanding and mitigating the worst aspects of human behavior will proceed apace with progress on understanding and mitigating the changes to our planet that humans collectively have set in motion.

Lamont Weekly Report, July 1, 2016

     This week included the end of an academic and university fiscal year on Thursday, and the beginning of a new year today. A flurry of personnel and budget activities marked the lead-up to the change in the calendar. 

     Noteworthy among them are three promotions on the Lamont research faculty, all effective today. Natalie Boelman and Michael Previdi have been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Senior Staff, and Jonathan Nichols has been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Junior Staff. To Natalie, Michael, and Jonathan, congratulations! 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 17, 2016

     The Earth and Planetary science community mourned the death this week of Jerry Wasserburg, isotope geochemist and cosmochemist, Crafoord Laureate, and long-time member of the faculty at Caltech. Jerry’s laboratory largely defined the history of the Moon and established the timescale between nucleosynthesis and solar system formation.

Lamont Weekly Report, May 27, 2016

     A second week in a row began with sad news for the extended Lamont family, with a belated report that Columbia and Lamont alumnus Charles Officer, Jr., had passed away last month ( A theoretical geophysicist with broad interests, Chuck was well known as the author of several textbooks and a number of popular books in Earth science. 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 20, 2016

     The week began sadly for the extended Lamont family with the news that one of our most distinguished members, John Imbrie, passed away last Friday. Considered one of the founders of modern paleoceanography, John taught at Columbia's Department of Geological Sciences (now the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences) from 1952 to 1967 and served as department chair. The recipient of many awards and honors, John shared the 1996 Vetlesen Prize.

Lamont Weekly Report, April 29, 2016

    It is worth a few moments to celebrate the birthday today of chemist Harold Urey, whose discovery of deuterium in 1932 while on the Columbia faculty was recognized with a Nobel Prize two years later. Following his work on the Manhattan Project, Urey made seminal contributions that helped to establish the fields of cosmochemistry, planetary science, and what is now called astrobiology. 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 15, 2016


Today’s date makes me think of income taxes. This year, as with the past several, the hectic spring schedule forces me to throw up my hands and file for extensions on federal and state taxes so I can finish gathering the needed information over the summer. 

The spring schedule, of course, sometimes brings good news. This week, Peter Schlosser learned that he has been elected to membership in the German National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1652, the organization is the oldest continuously operating scientific academy in the world. Congratulations, Peter!