News aggregator

How Diamond Formation Depends on the Ocean - Hakai Magazine

Featured News - Wed, 08/19/2015 - 12:00
Lamont geochemist Yaakov Weiss shows in a new study how diamonds from Canada’s Northwest Territories owe their existence in part to ancient salt water.

Tracing the Arctic

TRACES of Change in the Arctic - Wed, 08/19/2015 - 00:07
Leaving Dutch Harbor

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy leaving Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and heading to the high Arctic for the GEOTRACES research cruise. It doesn’t take long to move from a landscape of steep carved cliffs to one of endless waves on an Arctic passage. Photo: T. Kenna

Dutch Harbor Alaska is located on that long spit of land that forms the Aleutian Islands of Western Alaska. Research vessels launch from this location and head northeast into the Bering Sea on their way to the Bering Strait, the gateway to the Arctic.

map of Dutch Harbor

Dutch Harbor, Alaska (from http://www.vacationstogo.com)

Our research cruise is part of the international Arctic GEOTRACES program, which this summer has three separate ships in the Arctic Ocean. The Canadian vessel headed north in early July, and the German vessel will follow a week behind the Healy. Each will be following a different transect in the Arctic Ocean to collect samples. The U.S. vessel has 51 scientists on board, each with a specific sampling program. We will focus our time in the western Arctic, entering at the Chukchi Sea.

What is GEOTRACES studying? The program goal is to improve our understanding of ocean chemistry through sampling different trace elements in the ocean waters. Trace elements can be an asset or a liability in the marine system, providing either essential nutrients for biologic productivity, or toxic inputs to a rapidly warming system. This part of the larger program is focused on the Arctic Ocean, the smallest and shallowest of the world’s oceans and the most under siege from climate change. Results from this cruise will contribute to our understanding of the processes at work in the Arctic Ocean, providing both a baseline of contaminants for future comparisons as well as insights into what might be in store for our future.

The land surrounding the Arctic Ocean is like a set of cradling arms, holding the ocean and the sea ice in a circular grasp. Within that cradle is a unique mix of waters, including freshwater from melting glacial ice and large rivers, and a salty mix of relatively warm Atlantic water and cooler Pacific water. Our first sample station lasts over 24 hours and focuses on characterizing the chemistry of the water flowing into the Arctic from the Pacific Ocean. This is critical for locking down  the fluxes and totals of numerous elements in the Arctic.

Map of sea ice

Daily map from the ship showing sea ice cover. Yellow is the marginal ice, and the red is heavy ice. The location of the Healy is visible at the lower edge of the photo at the edge of the red dot.

In the past the “embrace” of the Arctic land has served as a barrier, holding in the sea ice, which is an important feature in the Arctic ecosystem. In 2007, however,  winds drove large blocks of sea ice down the Fram Stait and out of Arctic. In recent years the Arctic sea ice has suffered additional decline, focusing new attention on the resource potential of this ocean.

Unexpectedly this year, the sea ice is projected to be thick along the proposed cruise track, thick enough that it might cause the ship to adjust her sampling plan.

Walrus

Walrus resting on Arctic sea ice. Photo: T. Kenna

The walrus in the above image are taking advantage of the Arctic sea ice. Walrus use the ice to haul out of the water, rest and float to new locations for foraging. Walrus food of preference is mollusks, and they need a lot of them to keep themselves satisfied, eating up to 5,000 a day, using the sea ice as a diving platform. As the ship moves further from shore, we will lose their company.

Margie Turrin is blogging for Tim Kenna, who is reporting from the field as part of the Arctic GEOTRACES, a National Science Foundation-funded project.

For more on the GEOTRACES program, visit the website here.

L2-14

Sugar - Sun, 08/16/2015 - 22:33
... so my mother can see I'm wearing a hardhat (Hi Mom).  Galen getting done, Natalie with commentary, Yogi counting it down ...



Shot L3-01 video

Sugar - Sun, 08/16/2015 - 21:52


HUGE THANKS to all the volunteers who worked so hard to make this project such a great success. It  was a pleasure working with you and getting to know you all.  Also mega thanks to all the landowners who were kind enough, and trusting enough, to let us put a source on their property.  None of this could have happened without your generosity and spirit of curiosity.  Thanks so much.

Dan



What goes bump in the night? We do.

Sugar - Sun, 08/16/2015 - 11:30
Controlled blasts in deep holes are the source of sound waves for our program.  We set them off in the middle of the night because that is when it is quietest along the county and state roads where our instruments are shallowly buried on profiles across eastern Georgia and listening for sound waves.  During the nights of Aug 7, 8 and 11, our blasting experts Steve Harder, Galen Kaip and Ashley Nauer prepped and detonated 25 blasts along our lines, with some help from other enthusiastic scientists (like me).  Our shots have between 200 and 1600 lbs of explosives – mostly ammonium nitrate emulsion. At each shot, we connect a long wire between the drill hole and a blast box, move back a safe distance from the shot site, wait for the appointed time, and set off the blast. The blast box is used to detonate the shot at a very accurate time. There were two shooting teams, and each has different time windows for blasting to ensure that we only do one blast at a time. If two blasts occurred at the same time, the sound waves could interfere with one another.
Ashley Nauer and Kent Anderson wire up a shot.
When the blast goes off, you feel it more than hear it.  The sound waves radiate out from the shot traveling both within the earth and along the surface. Waves that travel along the surface of the earth (“surface waves”) cause the most ground shaking. If the ground is wet, sometimes a geiser briefly occurs 5-10 seconds are the explosion.  Not surprisingly, plenty of people are interested in experiencing this besides us!  Several of the property owners who very kindly gave us permission to set off these blasts on their land came out in the middle of the night to spectate.
Even putting aside the obvious rush of setting off a bunch of blasts, its fun to be out and about in the Georgia country side at night.  A cacophony of sounds echo around the forests from crickets and frogs.  Immediately after a shot, all of these creatures very briefly go silent – they know that something has happened! And then they ramp up again.  We also see other animals prowling around, including amardillos. A meteor shower occurred during our final night of blasting, which we could see quite well from the rural stretches of Georgia, far from light pollution of population centers.

Jim Gaherty illuminates a steaming hole that formed over the shot site from the blast.
The shot team filled in this hole the next day.Armadillo patrols one of shot sites.

Explaining the "Godzilla" El Nino - MSNBC

Featured News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Adam Sobel explains to MSNBC what El Nino is and what a strong El Nino could mean for the U.S. this year, including drought-stricken California.

Small Earthquake Rattles New Jersey - ABC News

Featured News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 07:00
Won-Young-Kim, who heads the seismic network for Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, discusses the size and location of the earthquake.

By 2100, Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean - Motherboard

Featured News - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 12:00
As the oceans acidify, shellfish and many creatures whose exoskeletons are made of calcium carbonate will be in trouble, and with them, the marine food chain, Lamont-Doherty's Taro Takahashi tells Motherboard.

Glacial Earthquakes May Help Forecast Sea-Level Rise - Phys.org

Featured News - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 12:00
Meredith Nettles explains how monitoring the earthquakes created by calving glaciers in Greenland could be used to forecast sea-level rise.

Report Recommends New Goals for U.S. Antarctic Program - Science

Featured News - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:00
A National Academies committee co-chaired by Lamont's Robin Bell proposed a new vision for the U.S. Antarctic Program, focusing on the study of ice loss, genomics, and radiation from the beginning of the universe.

NYC High School Students Team with Lamont Researchers to Study the Environment - NY1

Featured News - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 08:00
Dozens of New York City high school students are attending a different kind of summer school. They're working with researchers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute to study changes in the Hudson River environment.

The Plundering of the Poor After Natural Disasters - WNYC Leonard Lopate Show

Featured News - Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:00
Lamont's John Mutter writes in his new book "The Disaster Profiteers" about how the rich exploit natural disasters and can end up profiting off the poor.

‘Dzud’ Years for Mongolian Herders Linked to Climate - Environmental Research Web

Featured News - Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:00
Lamont's Mukund Palat Rao discusses a new study on the connection between climate and the deadly dzud years for livestock in Mongolia.

A Huge Algae Bloom Off the Pacific Coast Is Poisoning Shellfish and Sea Lions - Vice News

Featured News - Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:00
Lamont-Doherty's Joaquim Goes explains how the combination of especially warm ocean temperatures and agricultural runoff are contributing to a large — and toxic — algae bloom.

More updates from our field teams...

Sugar - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 12:35

Seventeen teams are rounding up 1953 small seismic stations along our 350-mile-long line across eastern Georgia, and they continue to send texts and pictures with updates on their work…

“21757. Still kickin”
Kevin hunts for missing texans with the metal detector....
“Team 11 is all done and headed home to the mother ship”

“We’re not coming back unless we have all of them!”

“We had a helper at site 20431!”

“Hello Donna Rach and I are crushing it right now”

“Daily check in, we’re making good time so we should see the puppies soon enough”


Making metadata...
“Recovered a Texan at stop 20858. This one doesn’t seem to be working correctly, whenever I press it it just tells me things like “The Cowboys are America’s team” and “Bush was an American hero”. Weird.



“We got to 20170 the one with the ant colony”

Loaded up with Texans and geophones
“Stop 20804. Everything’s fine, except some guy came out of the woods and bit Brent. All he’s saying now is “brains” and is acting super creepy. I’ll keep an eye on it and only use the shovel if necessary”




“Will do! I will let you know if we become stuck… Looks likely”

Unearthing another Texan

“Just beat the downpour and headed for base”

“Stop 20879. Found the Texan disconnected from the geophone on top of where we buried it with pieces of bag around it, looked everywhere for the geophone. Found it about 5 m down the hill near the tree line with bite marks all along it. Either an animal dug it up or a very hungry confused thief”



Picking up litter?
“Found 2 dollars at 21058! Who says geology doesn’t pay well?”

Was not seen on the line...
Was seen on the line... yikes.

Timing Volcanoes: Tiny Crystals in Magma Hold Clues to its Speed - Academic Minute

Featured News - Thu, 08/06/2015 - 11:00
Lamont's Philipp Ruprecht explains how tiny crystals in magma can be used to measure how long the magma took to travel from mantle to surface.

Airplane Debris from Indian Ocean Raises More Questions - Huffington Post Live

Featured News - Thu, 08/06/2015 - 09:00
Lamont-Doherty's Vicki Ferrini talks with Huffington Post Live about ocean currents and the challenges of locating the wreckage of missing airliners on the ocean floor.

Best texts from the field (so far...)

Sugar - Thu, 08/06/2015 - 07:43
Seventeen teams have been out deploying small seismographs and geophones along a 300-mile-long profile across eastern Georgia, and they have been checking in with me regularly by text message. Some highlights from texts and pictures from our groups:



“Team4 is Done! I repeat again, 4 is done! Heading back to the sweet onion city! ☺”

“Still alive”



“Team gruesome twosome on our way back to the hub”

“We are gonna skip installing 21520 because both sides of the streets are well maintained yards and there’s not a great place to put a Texan”

“We’re done! Just kidding haha. We’re on our second!”

“We’re in the zone”

“All geophones buried --- I am beat. Where’s a can of spinach when ya need one, lol”

“It's a long way to the top if you want to study rocks”
"Sunrise at station 21779"
“We’re dirty but doing well!”


“Still digging. Still have not reached China. Will attempt again on next hole”


“On 20186 and we lost our bubble level. We even dug up the last geophone to see if I accidentally buried it”

“We just deployed our last station, 20224. Can we go to Jekyll Island?”



Donna Shillington, LDEO

New Expedition Heads for the Aleutian Islands - National Science Foundation

Featured News - Wed, 08/05/2015 - 12:00
Lamont's Peter Kelemen, Steven Goldstein and Merry Cai are headed for the Aleutian Islands to study lava and the origins of the continental crust. Terry Plank is working with another team on the expedition studying how water affects where and for how long magma is stored in Earth's crust.

Digging Holes and Filling Batteries -- A party in Vidalia, Georgia

Sugar - Tue, 08/04/2015 - 07:52

The SUGAR deployment team arrived en-masse on Saturday bringing the Line 2 personnel total to a whopping 45! The day started off with science and overview lectures by the SUGAR principle investigators Donna Shillington and Dan Lizarralde.  Students diligently rearranged the ten’s of Texan boxes into a makeshift lecture hall, complete with a projector and a Bluetooth sound system. 

With the science lecture complete and stomachs full of pizza, the entire group ventured out to conduct a practice deployment under the watchful eyes of the PASSCAL instrument team.  All 17 teams participated in the activity, standing in a single file line in front of our hotel digging practice holes, connecting the Texans to the geophones, and mindfully orientating them with their handy-dandy bubble levels. 

After a sweat filled hour under the Georgia sun, we caravanned back to the instrument center for a “battery party”. I call it a battery party in honor of the “streamer parties” that students will often participate in on active source seismic research cruises in which kilometers of cable need to be reeled off and rearranged.  In our case a battery party consisted of the 32 students placing 2 D-cell batteries inside each of the 2,000 Texans.  The instrument center quickly transformed from an orderly lecture hall into a mass of empty battery boxes and disassembled Texans though despite the apparent chaos, we got the job complete and the Texans filled in only a few short hours. 

Next up will be flagging the instrument locations and the actual deployment.  We have our fingers and toes crossed for dry weather and safe road conditions as the student teams prepare to set off on their flagging and deployment expeditions. 

Natalie Accardo - Columbia University, LDEO


The SUGAR2 deployment team hails from all across the United States
covering more than 15 states and 21 different universities/institutions.   

The deployment team sits with rapt attention listening to
the science and overview lecture.

Students practice digging holes and deploying Texans
near our hotel in Vidalia, Georgia.
Students and PASSCAL personnel take over the instrument center
filling 2,000 Texans with D-cell batteries.
The "battery party" comes to an end as the last Texans are filled and
the boxes are rearranged for easy late-night programming by the PASSCAL team.  



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