Lamont Weekly Report, February 14, 2014


    For yet another week, Lamont was closed by a snowstorm. And once again, Lamont’s snow removal crew worked around the clock, this week from Wednesday night to this morning, to make it possible to reopen the campus today. Our thanks are due once more to Lenny Sullivan and his crew of Bruce Baez, Tom Burke, Carmine Caviliere, Bob Daly, Tony DeLoatch, Joe Giebelhouse, Kelley Jones, Mike McHugh, Glenn Pforte, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, and Rick Trubiroha. We all owe these colleagues an accumulating debt of gratitude that is deeper than our snowbanks.
    Despite the travails of a tough winter, there is considerable good news to celebrate.
    On Monday, the Geological Society of London – founded in 1807 and the oldest geological society in the world – announced that Maureen Raymo is to receive the society’s Wollaston Medal. The highest award of the society and first given in 1831, the Wollaston Medal recognizes “geologists who have had a significant influence by means of a substantial body of excellent research in either or both ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ aspects of the science.” Past recipients include Maurice Ewing and Wally Broecker from the Twentieth Century and Louis Agassiz, Charles Darwin, and Charles Lyell from the Nineteenth. Mo will receive the medal at a ceremony in June.
    Speaking of Wally, Oxford University announced last week that he is to receive an honorary degree, also at a ceremony in June. One of only two scientists, and only six individuals in all, to be so honored by the university this year, Wally will receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa ( Please join me in congratulating our two colleagues on their upcoming trips to Great Britain!
    Kirsty Tinto has been appointed an Associate Research Scientist, effective last week. A member of Lamont’s Polar Geophysics Group, Kirsty has been at the Observatory for more than three years, has worked in Greenland and Antarctica, and has been a frequent contributor to the Earth Institute’s State of the Planet blogs (
    Also last week, Nina Aguilar, on maternity leave from our Finance Office, gave birth to a daughter, Sofia Aracena. Sofia has seen a lot of snow in her first 10 days.
    On Monday, Art Lerner-Lam, Kathy Callahan, Edie Miller, and I met for three hours with the Associate Directors and Division Administrators from each of Lamont’s research divisions and the Office of Marine Operations, as well as other directorate and Finance Office staff, in the annual budget meeting. Lamont’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year is being built upward from the informed projections developed by each of the divisions, and the considerable planning efforts completed to date by the divisions were evident in the detailed presentations on staffing and budget forecasts presented at that meeting.
    In the news recently was a four-part article on World Science Festival that quotes Heather Savage (in part 2) on the great Tohoku-Oki earthquake of 2011 and the devastating tsunami it generated ( A story posted on Monday in Discover Magazine features Paul Olsen and his drilling project to recover 1600 feet of core from the Petrified Forest; the focus of the story was a major North American extinction event in the mid-Triassic (about 215 million years ago) and whether the impact event that formed the Manicouagan crater in Canada was responsible ( An article Wednesday in The Telegraph on the endangered rhinoceros discussed the work of Kevin Uno on the radiocarbon dating of rhino horns and other hard tissue of animals that lived and died since the onset of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons (
    A recent addition to the blog pages of Lamont’s website is a link to the “geopoetry” of Kat Allen. Creative and informative, the poems posted so far are odes to marine bioluminescence, the African coelacanth, and fossils of Cambrian worms ( I hope that we will see more.
    Next Friday, the Practice Committee of the Earth Institute faculty will host a panel discussion about the experience of conducting fieldwork in Haiti and the lessons that the experience offers for applied research in general. Panelists will include Art Lerner-Lam, Alex Fischer from CIESIN, Pedro Sanchez from the Agriculture and Food Security Center, Richard Gonzalez of the Urban Design Lab, and Tatiana Wah of the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development; the panel will be chaired by Ed Lloyd, Clinical Professor in Environmental Law. The event will be held from 10 am to noon in the Shapiro Room of the Alumni Center. Anyone who wishes to attend should RSVP to Cassie Xu (
    Also next Friday, Lamont’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by Berkeley seismologist Richard Allen, who will speak about his work on real-time earthquake alerts. Richard’s talk will be followed by a champagne reception in the Monell lobby to celebrate Mo Raymo’s Wollaston Medal.
    The Colloquium today features geomorphologist Joshua Roering from the University of Oregon ( Josh arrived in New York on Wednesday and reportedly announced, “Being a native Minnesotan, I miss these storms!” He will be speaking on “Uplifting sandpiles and fruitcake: Geomorphic response along Cascadia and the Mendocino triple junction.” If you have ever wondered about practical uses for fruitcake (a snow shovel, perhaps?), today is a rare chance to learn more.