Lamont Weekly Report, August 30, 2013
The Columbia campus is awash with students, even as the hallways at Lamont are unusually quiet, as our scientists stretch out fieldwork or grab a few final days off before the beginning of the academic year next week.
I am pleased to report that we have three new Lamont Assistant Research Professors: glaciologist Tim Creyts, volcanologist Einat Lev, and geologist Aaron Putnam. Each appointment was the outcome of an open search and a thorough evaluation by a search committee of the qualifications of all applicants within one of the several broad research areas described in our last search advertisement. It is a testament to the strength of Lamont’s postdoctoral scientist program that the leading candidate in each of these three searches had first come to the Observatory as a postdoc. We expect to make additional appointments to the research faculty ranks this fall.
Coring in the drill hole behind Lamont’s seismology parking lot resumed on Monday and will continue for two to three weeks. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, with co-funding from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the drill site is one of two pilot boreholes chosen to study the late Triassic strata of the Newark Basin and to explore formations that might accommodate the future sequestration of carbon dioxide. The Lamont team, by David Goldberg, Paul Olsen, and Dennis Kent, is partnering with Houston-based Sandia Technologies, Poughkeepsie-based Conrad Geoscience, Rutgers University, Schlumberger, New York State Museum, and NETL. Since late July, the upper 750 ft of the borehole was drilled and cored over the lowermost 100 ft, and the hole was then cased and cemented through the base of the Palisades sill. This week, drilling and continuous coring began for the 1250-ft interval below casing; the final depth of the borehole will be approximately 2000 ft. The drilling is authorized and overseen by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Rockland County Department of Health.
After drilling has been completed, geophysical logs will be collected by Schlumberger to obtain in situ information on porosity, lithology, and structure. The cores and geophysical measurements will be used to evaluate the geologic characteristics of the basin. Although no CO2 injection is planned at this site, knowledge of the storage capacity of the Newark Basin can be applied to studies of other rift basins along the Atlantic coastline. The borehole will remain open and is available for further studies under the DEC permit.
On Wednesday this week, 19 new graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences were treated to an orientation on the Lamont campus. Organized by Carol Mountain and Sally Odland, the orientation kicked off with a catered lunch and brief remarks by Peter deMenocal and me, followed by tours of the Comer Building, the Core Repository, the biogeoscience labs in the New Core Laboratory, the Seismology Building, the Marine Biology wing, the Borehole Research Group, the Tree-Ring Laboratory, the Oceanography Building, the IcePod lab, and the Geoscience Library. In lieu of a quiz on what they’d absorbed, the students ended the visit with an Orientation Party behind Lamont Hall.
In the news this week were several stories on the IcePod project designed to survey changes to the Greenland ice sheet. On Sunday, USA Today posted a story and video by Poughkeepsie Journal reporter John Ferro (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/25/hudson-river-greenland-ice-thaw/2697451/). Later in the week, The Guardian posted several stories (e.g., http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/27/icepod-greenland-melting-sheet-radar); an accompanying video features footage of the group at work in the field and comments by Robin Bell, Nick Frearson, Kirsty Tinto, and Chris Zappa.
Like many others at Lamont, I am taking today off. I am on an Amtrak train to Washington, D.C., but for once my trip involves no business. One of my daughters will be married on Sunday, a different kind of beginning.