Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, August 21, 2015

After two weeks away from the Lamont Campus, I find that much has happened in the intervening time.

A feature article remembering Denny Hayes was added to Lamont’s website last week ( Written by Kevin Krajick, the article chronicles Denny’s more than half century of research at Lamont and is filled with stories of his considerable efforts devoted to conducting marine geological and geophysical surveys at sea.

Steve Pica, Chief Engineer on the R/V Langseth, retired this month after devoting 34.......

Lamont Weekly Report, August 7, 2015

The Lamont campus was deeply saddened this week by the news that Dennis Hayes passed away on Thursday morning. A fixture in the Lamont family for more than half a century and a marine geophysicist whose work took him to all the world’s oceans, Denny held important leadership positions both at the Observatory and in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Denny first arrived at Lamont in 1961, with a fresh B.S.E. degree in geological engineering from the University of Kansas. With the help of a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, he completed his Ph.D. in 1966. He remained at .......

Lamont Weekly Report, July 31, 2015


This week has been as rare as a blue moon, the term sometimes used to describe the second of two occurrences of a full moon within a single month. The blue moon this month was this morning at 10:43 UTC (6:43 EDT). The last blue moon was in 2012, and the next will not be until 2018. 

The American Geophysical Union announced this week that Suzanne Carbotte has been named a Fellow ( AGU’s Fellows are arguably rarer than a blue moon, given that no more than 0.1% of the........

Lamont Weekly Report, July 24, 2015

     NASA followed last week’s Pluto flyby with an announcement this week of the discovery by the Kepler spacecraft of a super-Earth in an Earth-like orbit around a Sun-like star ( The planet (Kepler-452b) is 60% larger in diameter than Earth and has an orbital period of 385 days (but its mass is unknown).

Lamont Weekly Report, July 17, 2015

This week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued their State of the Climate for calendar 2014. The year set many records, according to the report, including average surface temperature, average sea surface temperature, and mean sea level ( Suzana Camargo was a contributing author to the NOAA report.

 This was also the last week at Lamont for Rachel Roberts, who leaves Lamont after nearly three years as Senior Program Analyst in the Observatory’s Research Management..........

Lamont Weekly Report, July 10, 2015

The summer is nearly half over. Whether you measure the season’s midpoint by Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the day halfway between Columbia University’s Commencement Day and Labor Day, both metrics give the same answer: next Tuesday. Nonetheless, the pace of scientific progress on our campus showed no evidence of mid-summer doldrums.

On Monday, Stacy Morford joined the Observatory as our new Senior Communications Officer in the office of Development, Communications, and Strategic Initiatives. With degrees in journalism and education, Stacy spent 10 years as a reporter and wire editor for Associated Press in New York City. After editorial posts at Current Events MagazineInsideClimate News, and Education Week, Stacy served for three years as Senior Online Communications Officer for the World Bank with a portfolio that included sustainable development, climate change, and disaster risk management. Please join me in welcoming Stacy to Lamont!...

Lamont Weekly Report, July 10, 2015

   The summer is nearly half over. Whether you measure the season’s midpoint by Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the day halfway between Columbia University’s Commencement Day and Labor Day, both metrics give the same answer: next Tuesday. Nonetheless, the pace of scientific progress on our campus showed no evidence of mid-summer doldrums. 

Lamont Weekly Report, June 26, 2015

     The highlight of this week was the awarding of the 2015 Vetlesen Prize to Stephen Sparks of the University of Bristol at a black-tie dinner ceremony in Low Library on Wednesday evening. One of the world’s foremost volcanologists, Steve visited Lamont on Monday to deliver a lecture on “How volcanoes work” to a full house in the Monell Auditorium.

Lamont Weekly Report, June 12, 2015

This week began Monday with World Oceans Day, a day recognized by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of Earth’s oceans. This year’s appropriate theme is “Healthy oceans, healthy planet” (

Newly published by the American Geophysical Union and John Wiley & Sons is a book on gender equity in Earth science co-edited by Kuheli Dutt and entitled Women in the Geosciences: Practical, Positive Practices toward Parity. The other two editors are Mary Anne Holmes from the University of Nebraska and Suzanne OConnell from........

Lamont Weekly Report, June 5, 2015

The news this week from Washington has been discouraging. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the FY 2016 Commerce-Science-Justice Appropriations bill that funds NSF, NOAA, NASA, and several other agencies and departments. The bill includes substantial cuts to the budgets for the Geosciences Directorate at NSF, the Earth Science Division at NASA, and climate research programs at NOAA relative to current-year levels. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Position (SAP) in opposition to the House bill and threatened that the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto such legislation were it presented to him for signature in that form. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee handling the appropriations bill for the.....

Lamont Weekly Report, May 29, 2015

This week marked the arrival of the Lamont Summer Interns, undergraduate students selected for an intensive 10-week research experience conducted on our campus under the supervision of a scientific mentor. A welcoming reception for the new interns was held yesterday on the lawn between the Seismology and Geoscience Buildings. 

A total of 26 interns hail from 15 colleges and universities from around the country. In the hope that you will find the opportunity this summer to meet as many of this year’s interns......

Lamont Weekly Report, May 22, 2015

Commencement Week at Columbia has marked not only the awarding of degrees to many of the students in the Lamont community but also the change in academic season. On Sunday I attended, and spoke at, the Ph.D. Convocation for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ( Joining the faculty for the event were Nick Christie-Blick, Bärbel Hönisch, and Pratigya Polissar. Among the Ph.D. candidates who participated were Shuoshuo Han, Gene Henry, Ge Jin, Raj Moulik, Rui Pei, Cassy Rose, John Templeton, Kaori Tsukui-Shockey, Stephen Veitch, Mike Wolovick, and Yang Zha. Not a bad showing for our campus!... 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 15, 2015

The week began with the sad news that Jim Simpson, an aqueous geochemist whose affiliation with Lamont and Columbia University spanned 50 years, passed away on Sunday. With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Caltech, Jim first arrived at Lamont as a graduate student in 1965. In 1970 he completed a Ph.D. thesis under Wally Broecker's supervision on "Closed basin lakes as a tool in geochemistry." After one year as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with NOAA’s Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Laboratory at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, Jim returned to Columbia and Lamont in 1971 to join the faculty of what was then the Department of Geological Sciences. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1977 and full Professor...... 

Lamont Weekly Report, May 8, 2015


The week began on a high note, with the announcement by the Seismological Society of America that Chris Scholz is to receive the 2015 Harry Fielding Reid Medal. The highest honor bestowed by the society, the Reid Medal is given no more than once per year for “outstanding contributions in earthquake seismology and earthquake engineering.” Past medalists have included Paul Richards and Lynn Sykes as well as former Lamont staff members Jim Brune, Jack Oliver, and Frank Press. Chris will receive his medal at next year’s SSA meeting. 

The Geochemistry Division this week welcomed Ezazul Haque as a part-time Staff........

Lamont Weekly Report, May 1, 2015


This week began with the tragic earthquake in Nepal, a magnitude-7.8 event that affected one-third of the country’s population and left thousands of fatalities. Colin Stark quickly penned a piece for CNN on the seismic and tectonic history of the region and the consequences of increases in population and lack of adherence to building construction codes in urban areas ( Other media stories on the quake, its aftershocks, and fostering grater resilience to such events in the developing world included additional............

Lamont Weekly Report, April 24, 2015

This week included Earth Day on Wednesday (, and even the Google Doodle included an image of our planet.

The week was also one in which we marked two departures. Hélène Carton is leaving Lamont to take a junior faculty position at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris. After three years here as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist and five years as a Lamont Assistant Research Professor, including four years as Chief Scientist for our Office of........ 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 17, 2015

The spring season is eagerly awaited. Splashes of forsythia, daffodils, and tulips in the area suggest that the greening of the campus is not far off.

This is the week of the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. At that meeting, Göran Ekström was awarded the Beno Gutenberg Medal from EGU’s Seismology Division. Göran received the medal “for contributions to the understanding of the elastic (particularly anisotropic) and anelastic structure of the Earth, and for understanding and characterising seismic sources, especially unusual ones such as ‘ice-quakes’ or the Earth’s.....