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Keys to Success

Geopoetry - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 08:00

 

Jed Fuhrman, Nature 2013

Image: Jed Fuhrman, Nature 2013

 

Humans hate to catch the flu,

But here’s a fact that’s less well-known:

Bacteria get infections too

As many cultures have now shown.

In the ocean, P. ubique

(growing, growing everywhere)

Is plagued by viruses that seek

To hijack ubique’s gene hardware.

The key to beating strong predation:

Nutrients and conjugation!

__________________________________________________

Further reading:

Abundant SAR11 viruses in the ocean, Zhao et al., Nature (2013)

This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. First posted 2/15/13 on Allen’s website.

Digging Deep for Safer Water - Chemistry World

Featured News - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 11:00
Alexander van Geen, a geochemist at Columbia University in New York, US, has been focusing his efforts on testing wells that are already in use. In 2000, his team measured the levels of arsenic in 5000 wells in Bangladesh and, armed with the GPS location of each well, looked at the spatial variability. 'What was striking is that the distribution was very heterogeneous,' he says. 'We calculated that, over our area, 50% of the people had wells with water that they should not be drinking from. However, 90% of these same households lived within 100m of a safe well.'

Long lines and lots of instruments

Sugar - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 10:38
If you want to image the Earth’s crust and upper mantle with seismic data, you need to record the arrival of seismic waves that have propagated down to, in our case, depths of up to ~30 km.  These deep-diving phases travel quickly through the denser, higher velocity rocks of the lower crust and upper mantle, and they arrive back at the surface ahead of shallower phases at long source-receiver offsets (see video below).  




To record these lower-crustal and upper-mantle phases as “first arrivals”, where they are not obscured by the arrival of energy from shallow paths, we use long lines.  Long lines mean lots of receivers and lots of driving to deploy and recover these instruments.  We could have used lots of sources instead, but the blasts we used to get seismic energy into the lower crust and upper mantle in this experiment take a lot of time and money to setup.  Receivers are much cheaper, so we used a lot of them.  (For similar wide-angle/long-offset work at sea, airgun sources are cheaper than putting seismometers on the seafloor, so we use many shots and a smaller number of receivers out there.)

This time-lapse video shows Team 13 of 14 recovering 89 of the 1200 total short-period seismograph stations from where our line crossed Fort Benning, near the northwestern end of the line.



Nathan Miller, LDEO

Deploy in the rain, recover in the sunshine…

Sugar - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 23:32


Weather map during deployment. When the time came to install our 1200 small seismographs across Georgia at the flagged positions, the rains came….   A lot of rain.  During our first deployment day, we received 1-2 inches of rain, and another wave of rain clouds came through on Day 2 (check out map). Roads that used to be easily passable became mudholes or were flooded with water. All-wheel-drive vehicles and drill rigs alike got stuck, and a few station locations could only be reached on foot. Our hard-working field crew labored in the rain digging holes and deploying seismometers.  Vehicles, equipment and people were covered in the famous Georgia red clay (and other muds and sands of Georgia and northernmost Florida). Adding insult to injury, problems with the programming of some of the instruments meant that we actually had to pick up and redeploy many of them. It was a mudbath.  Nonetheless, our field crew managed to deploy 1200 seismometers across Georgia by Tuesday at sundown. It was an impressive show of endurance, and an inspiring display of positivity given the number of people that were still smiling and upbeat at the end of it all.  A couple of days later, after our seismic shots, it was already time to pick up the instruments, and the weather changed completely.  The sun shined on SW Georgia, and we picked up almost every last seismometer in just one day under blue skies….  Donna Shillington, LDEO

New Zealand Dust May Have Cooled Earth During Ice Age - LiveScience

Featured News - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 11:00
Researchers just returned from a month in backcountry New Zealand trying to determine whether dust from New Zealand may have contributed to the last ice age.

Video of shots L1-05, 06, 07 and 08

Sugar - Sat, 03/22/2014 - 21:52
Shooting a land refraction experiment is more difficult in almost every way than collecting a comparable dataset at sea.  Far more difficult.  But I can't think of anything at sea that compares to the experience of setting off a series of shots at night.  On the first night of shooting, Steve, Nathan, Meghan and I detonated shots L1-05, 06, 07 and 08, while Galen, Donna and Natalie shot 14, 13, 11, and 10, and Tina, Adrian, James and Semir shot L1-04.  I recorded the video clips linked below at our shots (05-08).

To someone who hasn't seen a seismic source shot before, there really isn't a good way to describe what a good shot feels like, except as something you haven't felt before.  We had a number of students watching L1-05 being shot, since this location is quite close to Americus.  The video of L1-05 is completely lacking in drama, which is a good thing; but that shot gave us all a great ride.  The 100 pounders 06 and 07 were also surprisingly good.

We made gathers for most of the shots today. The dataset is fantastic, and 05, 06 and 07 produced super record sections.  L1-08 committed most if its energy to the air, but it shook the ground nicely and I've got a feeling those data are going to be great too.


The video is here:  http://youtu.be/DNINWj2kf1s



Dan

Sea Change

Geopoetry - Fri, 03/21/2014 - 09:06
 www.argo.ucsd.edu

Photo: www.argo.ucsd.edu

Gliders and buoys and robots — oh my!

Over and through the ocean they fly.

Oodles of data from sensors galore,

Studied by many, far from the sea’s roar.

A real revolution, there seems little doubt,

But what of the crew who never sail out?

To peer in the great briny main without drinking …

How might that impact the next wave of thinking?

___________________________________

Further reading:

A Sea Change for U.S. Oceanography, Science 2013

The New Generation of Sea Scientist, Science 2013 

This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. First posted 3/1/13 on Allen’s website.

Possible Debris in Treacherous Waters - CNN

Featured News - Thu, 03/20/2014 - 11:00
Lamont oceanographer Arnold Gordon lists the difficulties in finding the plane in this part of the Indian Ocean.

Random Pictures from the Road (and otherwise)

Sugar - Wed, 03/19/2014 - 12:43
As a follow follow up to Chastity's post, I thought a few random pictures from the road would be entertaining. I have been part of group 5 and as such responsible for the part of the line that spans from Hahira in the south to just north of Adel.

 South-central part of the seismic line. The yellow line is team 5's section.  We have been in a relatively rural part of Georgia and as a result have not encountered many locals save a few who have stopped to ask if we are ok. However, we have seen quite a few interesting things that are quite out of the ordinary (to me at least).

Friendly Muscovy duck.Rocks in a stream bed with associated pink spongy material (?)
Spanish moss.Linguoid (current) ripples on a washed out road. We have also seen quite a few old abandoned farm houses in various stages of aging...



At least 10-15 dogs were standing guard at this house, including about 8 puppies.
Caroline making some new friends.
All said we have dug 122 holes in team 5's stretch. We have also helped deploy instruments in other sections as well and while doing so have seen others hard at work.

Meghan and Nate getting it done!Along the way the cars have taken quite a beating and have actually held up pretty well. Although there have been a few instances where people got stuck, I think that the people with the toughest job will be the guys that have to detail the cars upon their return...



A more appropriate vehicle (?)And lastly here's a couple more random pictures that I thought were interesting.

The large disparity in fuel grade gas prices.
A ~perfectly leveled geophone (it's harder than you'd think).Hopefully this random selection of pictures was entertaining. Up next we will post about last night's "shots." In the meantime, I can say that they were all successful with varying degrees of excitement. The most important thing is that all of our hard work is being realized as the instruments are recording refractions from buried geology that will help us unravel some of the mystery that surrounds events that happened in this area long ago.

James Gibson, LDEO

Rain, geophones, and animals … Oh my!

Sugar - Tue, 03/18/2014 - 16:15

Chastity AikenGeorgia Institute of Technology

Before and After Images of Enormous Alaska Landslide - Earth & Sky

Featured News - Tue, 03/18/2014 - 11:00
The landslide on Alaska's Mount La Perouse, discovered by a team of Lamont scientists, is thought to be the largest known natural landslide on Earth since 2010.

Mercury Is Wrinkling Like A Raisin - Forbes

Featured News - Mon, 03/17/2014 - 11:00
“This discrepancy between theory and observation, a major puzzle for four decades, has finally been resolved,” said Sean Solomon, principal investigator on the NASA mission and director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “It is wonderfully affirming to see that our theoretical understanding is at last matched by geological evidence.”

Flags, Flags, and More Flags - Locating the sites for 1200 instruments

Sugar - Sat, 03/15/2014 - 22:14
Many of the SUGAR field team arrived in Americus, GA on Wednesday to start helping with the massive charge of deploying 1200 seismic instruments along the SUGAR seismic line.  The seismic line spans 200 miles from northwest Georgia to just past the Georgia-Florida border; a 4+ hour car drive from end to end!  Everyone gathered early Thursday morning on the idyllic Georgia Southwestern State campus to meet with the chief scientists and learn about the proper techniques for identifying installation sites for the seismographs (just the first step in installing the instruments).  With neon orange safety jackets, numerous maps, GPS devices, packets of official permitting documents, and heads full of safety precautions the field team split into seven two-person pairs each equipped with their own squeaky clean rental car (though they didn’t stay clean for very long!).  The fleet of SUGAR rental cars looking clean and shiny before being driven
into the field where they undoubtedly got a little mud on their tires. Each pair of field assistants was given a segment of the seismic line to drive and flag locations for instrument installation deemed safe both from the seismograph (i.e. dry, firm soil) and the install team (i.e. a safe distance from the road).  Given the shear distance of the seismic line, teams found themselves amid diverse backdrops from rolling farmland with overly friendly cows to buzzing residential neighborhoods to sandy stretches flanked by towering groves of Ponderosa Pine trees. Antonio placing a flag and using a GPS device to note the location where a
seismograph will be installed amid the sandy surroundings of a Ponderosa Pine farm.Every team was able to flag all their sites within just two days leaving us the luxury of a sunny Saturday morning free for exploring more of our beautiful Georgia surroundings.  Next up is the actual task of installing the 1200 seismographs which will involve twice the people, six more (temporarily clean) vehicles, and of course countless exciting adventures from the field.  Happy (almost) St. Patrick’s Day from Americus!A picturesque county road near Jasper, FL along which instruments will be deployed.-- Natalie Accardo, LDEO




A day with the seismic source team in photos

Sugar - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 22:43
The source of sound waves for the SUGAR experiment will be a series of controlled blasts along the profile.  For each of these, we drill a 60-100 ft deep hole, place emulsion explosives with boosters and caps at the base of the hole, and fill in the rest of the hole with dirt and gravel.  Each seismic source location requires a substantial amount of work by drillers and the UTEP seismic source team.  Below, Adrian Gutierrez shows a day in the life of the source team with pictures (Donna Shillington, 13 March 2014)

Adrian Gutierrez, 13 March 14
7:30 am: Leave Georgia Southwestern State University, where we are staying, and head to the site8:20 am: Arrive at site 8:30 am: Start drilling and take geological samples every 5 ft.
9:00 am: Dyno Nobel truck arrives; load emulsion into cut PVC pipe sections that serve as a holders for emulsion. 9:30 am: Surprise visit from other scientists on the project9.50 am: Setting up the booster in the emulsion.11.20 am: Loading the explosives into the drill hole12.00 pm: Drill crew starts removing their equipment12.45 pm: Tagging the charges and plugging the hole3.15 pm: Move onto the next drill site.Nighttime: Finally back to the dorm.


The Dawn of Plate Tectonics

Geopoetry - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 11:30
 Dr. Mark Reagan, Science Now

Image: Dr. Mark Reagan, Science Now

An ancient grain of zircon found

In Jack Hill sandstone north of Perth,

Inside its crystal lattice bound:

Secrets of our planet’s birth.

 

The oldest grain (we rock hounds swoon),

Tells of magma oceans past,

An early impact yields the moon;

And all of this occurred so fast!

 

The zircon’s old, which then implies

That solid rocks must be still older.

In Canada, a sequence lies,

With implications even bolder!

 

A pattern locked within old lava

Echoes patterns from the deep;

Mariana-like subduction …

To plate tectonics, take the leap!

 

Hadean times are cloaked in intrigue,

Eons distant, full of strife,

Yet it seems these rocks held promise,

Full of boron, primed for life!

 

_______________________________________________

In the news:

New Record for Oldest Earth Rock, Sky and Telescope

Hadean age for a post-magma-ocean zircon confirmed by atom-probe tomography, Nature Geoscience

The Dawn of Plate Tectonics, Science Now

Heading down early on? Start of subduction on Earth, Geology

Please Explain: Glaciers - WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show

Featured News - Fri, 03/14/2014 - 11:00
Lamont's Tim Creyts explains what glaciers are, how they move and sculpt the landscape, and how climate change is affecting glaciers around the world.

What Historical Kings and Marauders Can Teach Us about Climate - Grist

Featured News - Thu, 03/13/2014 - 11:00
Research by Lamont-Doherty tree-ring scientists Neil Pederson and Brendan Buckley cited.

What If You Could Drive 100,000 Miles on One Tank of Gas? - ABC News

Featured News - Thu, 03/13/2014 - 11:00
The invention of a car that gets 100,000 miles to the gallon would shrink global car emissions and help to slow the rate of global warming, says Lamont-Doherty climate scientist Peter deMenocal.

Ohio Earthquakes Rattle up Concerns about Fracking - Los Angeles Times

Featured News - Wed, 03/12/2014 - 11:00
Lamont-Doherty seismologists in 2011 linked a series of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio, to underground wastewater injection wells.

Ancient Tree Rings Suggest Good Weather Helped Genghis Khan Build His Empire - PBS News Hour

Featured News - Wed, 03/12/2014 - 11:00
New research suggests that Genghis Khan, one of the greatest conquerors in all of history, may have been given an advantage by Mother Nature, says a new study led by Lamont's Neil Pederson.
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