Lamont Weekly Report, July 26, 2013

    Today is the anniversary of the 1971 launch of the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon. Apollo 15 was the first of the so-called “J missions,” with a longer duration on the lunar surface than earlier landed missions, the first astronaut-driven rover, and an enhanced focus on science. The Apollo 15 mission included the first measurement of heat flow from the lunar interior. The PI for that experiment was Lamont’s Mark Langseth.
    Lamont’s research vessel, named in Mark’s honor, continued this week to explore the three-dimensional seismic structure of the Galicia Rift west of Spain. A posting by Natalie Accardo on the expedition’s blog on Wednesday features a virtual tour of the Langseth’s main science laboratory (
    In a paper posted online in Nature Geoscience on Sunday, Trevor Williams, Sidney Hemming, and coauthors documented evidence from sediments off East Antarctica that during warm intervals of the Pliocene Epoch 3–5 million years ago the distal margin of the East Antarctic ice sheet was several hundred kilometers inland of the land coastline. Their study indicates that the modern ice sheet in East Antarctica is vulnerable to substantial melt back under conditions warmer than today. Kim Martineau posted a nice summary of the article on Monday ( National Geographic posted a story on the paper on Tuesday (
    This is a week when several Lamont scientists are attending meetings of international scientific associations. At the General Assembly of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI), held in Kagoshima, Japan, attendees were treated to the eruption of Sakurajima during a field trip to the volcano ( The Joint Assembly of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean (IAPSO), and the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior (IASPEI) is being held this week in Gothenburg, Sweden.
    A highlight of the latter meeting was the award by IAPSO of the Prince Albert I Medal to Arnold Gordon ( The seventh recipient of the medal, Arnold was cited “for his outstanding contribution in observational oceanography and in particular for his work in defining the physical processes in the Southern Ocean and Indonesian Throughflow.” Following the presentation ceremony, the medalist traditionally gives a Memorial Lecture; Arnold’s talk was on the “Large-scale impact of the Indonesian Throughflow.”
    The Geochemistry Division this week welcomed Yael Kiro as a part-time Postdoctoral Research Scientist. Yael’s primary affiliation is with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she holds a postdoctoral appointment and works with Professors Mordechai Stein and Boaz Lazar. A geochemist with expertise in hydrography and salt dynamics, Yael will be working on deep drill cores from the Dead Sea to document and characterize variations in the paleoclimate of the region. Her Lamont host will be Steve Goldstein.
    Mike Purdy has formed a new Advisory Committee to the Leadership of Columbia University on the Development of the Partnership between the University and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the group met for the first time on Wednesday. In addition to gaining an inside track on the contest for the entity with the longest name at Columbia, the committee has been asked to provide advice on ongoing negotiations between Columbia and NASA on the nature of the future partnership between GISS, the Earth Institute, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and other university units. My fellow committee members include Mark Cane, Peter Schlosser, Adam Sobel, Gavin Schmidt from GISS, Shih-Fu Chang from the Engineering School, Alison Miller from the Earth Institute, and Adrian Hill from the EVPR office.
    Planning began on Thursday this week for Lamont’s next Open House, to be held in the fall of 2014. At the planning meeting were Vilma Gallagher, Jennifer Genrich, and Steve Cohen from the central Earth Institute office, as well as Pete Sobel and Stacey Vassallo from our development office, Kathy Callahan, Art Lerner-Lam, and I. Discussion focused on the diverse audiences for the Open House event and how best to engage each of those groups. One of the objectives of the early start on the planning is to make the most effective use of the time of the event planners between now and the event.
    Today, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, whose 17th New York district includes Lamont, hosted two events that involved members of our staff. This morning she held a “discussion about environmental health” at the Orangetown Town Hall in Orangeburg. The discussion featured a presentation by Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of NIH, and included participation by Ben Bostick, Beizhan Yan, and Joe Graziano from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. A later event this afternoon was a press conference to highlight potential impacts to public health and the environment that may result from the sequester and cuts to federal agency budgets in the latest bills reported out by the House Appropriations Committee (on which the Congresswoman is the Ranking Member). Greg O’Mullan, coauthor of a recently published study of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Hudson River (, participated in the press briefing.
    This afternoon, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network celebrates 15 years on the Lamont Campus as part of the Earth Institute. Festivities in the Monell Auditorium, its foyer, and under tents in front of the building run from 2 to 4:30 pm. I hope that you will join me in toasting our CIESIN colleagues for their contributions to this campus to date and to wish them well for their next 15 years.
    Whether your thoughts turn to the heat flowing out of the Moon, or to the welcome reduction in the atmospheric heat in the vicinity of New York City yesterday and today, may you have an enjoyable weekend.