Lamont Weekly Report, March 7, 2014


    The week began with what The Weather Channel called winter storm Titan, but to those in the New York area the name seemed oversized. This was also the week when President Obama released his budget for the next federal fiscal year. Although the scientific community is understandably interested in what that budget might foretell for the major science agencies, there are many steps ahead before the details of those budgets will be known.
    The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences announced the good news this week that Bärbel Hönisch has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure, effective 1 July. Also this week, the Department of Environmental Science at Barnard College announced that Brian Mailloux has been awarded tenure, similarly effective in July. Please join me in congratulating both Bärbel and Brian on well-deserved promotions.
    The Geochemistry Division welcomed two visiting scientists this week. Sandra Braumann, from the University of Vienna, will be visiting Joerg Schaefer’s group as a part-time Staff Associate until September. Hydrogeologist Andrew Love, an Associate Professor at Flinders University and an expert on Australian water resources (, will be working with Martin Stute until June.
    The Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division welcomed Shilin Li, a graduate student at Peking University, for a visit of 3 months. Shilin will be working with Ge Jin, Jim Gaherty, and Paul Richards on an investigation of the differential rotation of Earth’s inner core from records of ambient seismic noise obtained from antipodal seismic stations.
    The R/V Langseth remains in Detyens Shipyards in Charleston, where repairs and upgrades have been progressing as planned. The schedule calls for completion of dry dock work by March 17 and completion of the remaining shipyard work by the end of the month.
    From Monday evening through Wednesday, I was in Tucson to chair an Academic Program Review Committee for the Department of Planetary Sciences and the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. Visiting committee meetings typically offer a short but intensive view of the inner workings of a department or research laboratory, and I always come away from such an experience with fresh insight into how another institution has addressed familiar scientific and personnel issues.
    On Thursday, Alexander Lloyd successfully defended his thesis on “Timescales of magma ascent during explosive eruptions: Insights from the re-equilibration of magmatic volatiles.” There were no reports of explosive eruptions during the defense (although volatiles were consumed afterwards). Congratulations, Alex!
    On Thursday, Sean Higgins spoke to the Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program ( on “Re-imagining and imaging of the deep sea: Voyages of discovery” ( Next week’s CUSP speakers will be Christine McCarthy and Einat Lev, who are teaming on a presentation entitled “Changing Earth: Exploring the science of ice, rock, and magma across the world” (
    Lamont’s website has a number of new feature stories this week. Kim Martineau has posted a nice piece on Maureen Raymo’s work and her 2014 Wollaston Medal from the Geological Society of London ( Mike Steckler has added posts to his blog on field studies of natural hazards in Bangladesh ( Also now on our website is a story by freelance writer Renee Cho on former Marie Tharp Fellow Joanne Johnson and her work with Joerg Schaefer and others on the history of thinning of the Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet ( Kat Allen continues her geo-themed poetry contributions with entries on the magnetic dynamo of the Sun and the Bakken oil train fire (
    Lamont scientists appeared often in media stories this week. The Los Angeles Times quoted Richard Seager in a story Sunday (,0,5817547.story#axzz2uuYWqMAX) on the timing of the next El Niño. A piece in The New York Times on Tuesday featured a tour of the ice and snow of Brooklyn by polar geophysicist Kirsty Tinto ( An article in the Anchorage Daily News on Wednesday described the major Alaskan landslide last month first detected by Colin Stark, Göran Ekström, and Clément Hibert from its diagnostic signal on global seismic networks (
    Speaking of such networks, the Global Seismographic Network (GSN) Standing Committee of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) will be meeting at Lamont on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Meredith Nettles is the current chair of the committee (
    Lamont’s Advisory Board will also be meeting on campus next week. This meeting, on Wednesday, will be the first to include sessions of the five newly formed Board committees. The Board committees (and their chairs) include Membership (Kathleen Semergieff), Marketing (Wendy David), Risk (Julian Sproule), Education (Frank Gumper), and Development (Sarah Johnson and Susan Holgate). The full Board will be treated to a presentation by Adam Sobel on the Extreme Weather and Climate initiative that he is leading. The Board meeting will be followed by a Director’s Circle lecture by Richard Seager on “Droughts in a changing climate: A tale of three current droughts.”
    On Friday next week, Lamont will host a workshop on shooting photographs and video in support of research projects. The workshop will be led by three multimedia journalists: filmmaker and photographer Joshua Wolfe, coauthor of Climate Change: Picturing the Science and producer of many short films about the work of Lamont scientists; documentary maker Geoff Haines-Stiles, writer and director of the Public Broadcasting Service series Earth: The Operators’ Manual; and award-winning environmental photographer and filmmaker Evan Abramson, whose last film was Carbon for Water. Because space is limited, those interested in participating should register with Kim Martineau or Kevin Krajick.
    This afternoon, Lamont hosts the 19th annual Jardetzky Lecture by Harvard geophysicist Jerry Mitrovica (, who will speak on “Postmodern geophysics and ice age climate.” The lecture series honors the late Wenceslas S. Jardetzky, a mathematical geophysicist who worked on the Lamont staff from 1949 to 1962 after emigrating from post-war Europe. Today’s lecture will be followed by a reception. I hope that you can join us.