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The Langseth heads to sea

The ENAM Seismic Experiment - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 14:30

This morning, the R/V Langseth left port in Norfolk, passing saluting gantry cranes, container ships, and naval vessels on her way out to open waters.    The sun is shining and the seas are calm – perfect weather for adjusting to life at sea and getting our collective sea legs.  The R/V Langseth tied up at Lambert Point port in NorfolkWe will steam for ~24 hours to the eastern edge of our study area, where we will deploy our sound source and an 8-km-long streamer filled with pressure sensors. Over the next 35 days, we hope to use this seismic equipment to image everything from the base of the crust and deep magmatic intrusions related to the breakup of Pangea and opening of the Atlantic ocean to recent, large landslides along the east coast.   We will report often!Passing container ship...Cranes waving to us...
Air craft carriers in NorfolkMatt Hornbach and Derek Sawyer rocking lifejackets at the first Fire and Emergency DrillThe science party of MGL1408Donna Shillington aboard the R/V Marcus Langseth

A Green Blanket on the Arabian Sea - New York Times

Featured News - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:14
More coverage of Helga Gomes and Joaquim Goes' study in Nature Communications.

Salty Seismic Station Servicing in the Outer Banks

The ENAM Seismic Experiment - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 21:40

Over the last three days Celia and I (both geophysics graduate students at Columbia University – Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) have been servicing ENAM’s three land-based broadband seismometers that sit on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  These seismometers, installed in May of this year, represent a critical extension of ENAM’s ocean work as they expand the project’s scientific footprint across the western expression of the Eastern North American Margin magnetic anomaly.  This feature is one of ENAM’s key scientific targets as it is believed to be intimately tied to the complex rifting history of the Atlantic Ocean.  Map showing the locations of existing USArray seismic stations (white), ENAM offshore seismic stations (yellow), and ENAM onshore seismic stations (red).For our part, the goals for this service run were simple: 1) Safely retrieve the previously recorded data from the seismometers and 2) Check to make sure the instruments have been and currently are running well.  After spending a few days working in the sun and sand we are cautiously happy to report that we were successful on both fronts! First let’s talk about data.   Station CHPH located near Cape Hatteras Middle School.  The solar panel sits on the right and the computer and seismic instrument sit buried beneath the sand on the left.  Their location is marked by the line of logs.These instruments were installed in May 2014 and have been sitting quietly, buried beneath the sand recording ground motions from distant earthquakes ever since.  Amongst the treasure trove of data that we retrieved from the instruments are gorgeous records of both the Mw 6.9 Chiapas, Mexico event and of the recent Mw 6.0 Napa Valley earthquake, just to name a few.  Scientists will utilize traces of events such like these recorded at these stations to image the subsurface along the North Carolina coast with the aim to reveal the tectonic and deformational history of the region. 
Seismic records from the recent Mw 6.0 Napa Valley earthquake (left) recorded on ENAM station FFMS (located at First Flight Middle School) and the Mw 6.9 Chiapas, Mexico earthquake (right) recorded on station CHPH (located at Cape Hatteras Middle School).With the data safely retrieved and stored on backup hard drives, we next moved onto checking on the instruments themselves or as we call it, their “state of health” (SOH).  The term SOH includes a variety of checks including the temperature of the digitizer (the computer that interacts with the seismometer), the accuracy of the clock used to keep time for the seismometer, the voltages of the batteries that power the instrument and the computer, …  By looking at the SOH we make sure that the entire package from the instrument to the computer to the solar panel (used to charge the battery) is performing adequately and that all components are successfully interacting with each other. Natalie (left) and Celia (right) stand proudly in front of recently serviced seismic stations ECHS (located at East Carteret High School) and FFMS (located at First Flight Middle School).With the data collected and health of the stations verified, it’s time to leave the seismometers to collect data silently by themselves for another few months.  More students and scientists will come to check on them again and retrieve their records this winter.  With such an active and dynamic world around us, who knows what geophysical treasures will be hidden amongst the data that will be collected then!
- Natalie Accardo, Columbia University - LDEO

Rosette Test

The ENAM Seismic Experiment - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 21:36

 September 15, 2014
Testing one, two, three! We successfully completed a Rosette test of the Scripps acoustic transducers at 4000 meters water depth. We wanted to be sure we could talk to the ocean bottom seismometers once deployed to the bottom of the Atlantic where the pressure is around 40 MPa and the temperature at about 4 °C. The test went smoothly, and now we are ready to deploy! While we were at it, we had a little fun with Styrofoam cups sending them down as well with messages and pictures making styrocasts.

Recovery from the Rosette test (photo credit: Gary Linkevich)
See you later,

Kate Volk aboard the R/V Endeavor 


The ENAM Seismic Experiment - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 20:48
September 14, 2014
Science! At about 20:30 Eastern Time on September 13 we reached our first survey site off the coast of Virginia. While we’re excited to start deploying ocean bottom seismometers, we know that there might be some coral in the area. We don’t want to disturb any wildlife and therefore want to avoid placing an ocean bottom seismometer on any coral. We used 3.5 KHz sound waves to penetrate the subsurface and see what the seafloor looked like in order to find a safe place for the OBS. We surveyed the desired area of deployment and 500 meters in any direction from that location. Overall we surveyed 3 separate locations finishing up about three in morning. 

The science party discussing the recording of the survey. (Photo Credit: Gary Linkevich)
Kate watching the response from the 3.5 KHz chirp. (Photo Credit: Gary Linkevich)Gary, Brandon and Harm looking at the record from the 3.5 KHz chirp survey 

Fall Bucket List: 38 Things Not to Miss - (Rockland, NY) Journal News

Featured News - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 11:00
Young scientists of the world, unite! The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades will hold its annual open house on Oct. 11.

Scientists Use Air Guns off N.C. to Study Continental Rift - Virginian Pilot

Featured News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 11:00
Scientists plan to profile the ocean bottom off the Outer Banks using sonic blasts to learn more about how the continents broke apart millions of years ago.

R/V Endeavor Cruise Summary

The ENAM Seismic Experiment - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 17:24
September 12, 2014

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in North Kingstown, RI and the R/V Endeavor bustled with activity as we made the final preparations for our 38-hour transit to Cape Hatteras.  The past two days have been a blur of science meetings, last minute purchases and preparations, and forced suppression of my excitement to be onboard another research cruise. I now stand on the observation deck above the bridge, calmed by the brisk sea breeze rushing through my hair, ready for the tasks required of me in the month to come.

The R/V Endeavor at dock from astern. The OBSs have been loaded onto the fantail. (Photo Credit: Dylan Meyer)Initial science party meeting while still at the dock. (Photo Credit: Dylan Meyer)On the observation deck after getting under way. (Photo Credit: Jennifer Harding)Okay, enough of the fluffy mumbo-jumbo. Let’s get to the good stuff. For those of you who haven’t yet read through the information on the Eastern North American Margin Community Seismic Experiment (ENAM CSE), may we never have to write out that acronym in full again, here’s a summary of our research goals on the R/V Endeavor. Over the next 32 days at sea (or less, if things go well), we have four main tasks:

          -    Perform a survey of the seafloor near three drop sites that are within an essential fish habitat - habitat area of particular concern (EFH-HAPC) off Cape Hatteras to assure proper placement of our equipment.
          -    Test the acoustic release mechanisms for the Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS) devices from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), to assure that we can release the OBSs from the seafloor during the recovery process.
          -    Deploy and recover each of the 47 OBSs twice along the four multi-channel seismic (MCS) lines that will be shot by the R/V Langseth.
          -    Perform all the above operations in an efficient and safe manner.

The figure below shows the deployment stations for each of the OBSs and the MCS lines that will be run on the R/V Langseth after deployment.

Bathymetric/topographic map of the region around Cape Hatteras with MCS lines drawn in blue and OBS deployment stations as pink dotsThe expanse of this experiment is absolutely incredible, and I highly suggest that you visit the “About” portion of this blog site as well as the GeoPrisms website:

for additional information on the broader scientific goals of the ENAM CSE as well as specifics about the other branches of the experimental plan (MCS array, terrestrial seismic, long-period OBS).

Our scientific party consists of twelve people (2 research scientists, 6 graduate students, and 4 OBS technicians) from institutions spread across the US:

Harm van Avendonk – UT Austin Institute for Geophysics      Research Scientist
Brandon Dugan – Rice University Dept. of Earth Science        Research Scientist
Afshin Aghayan – Oklahoma State University                          Graduate Student
Jennifer Harding – UT Austin Institute for Geophysics            Graduate Student
Pamela Moyer – University of New Hampshire                        Graduate Student
Kathryn Volk – University of Michigan                                     Graduate Student
Dylan Meyer – UT Austin Institute for Geophysics                  Graduate Student
Gary Linkevich – Rice University Dept. of Earth Science        Graduate Student
Ernie Aaron – Scripps Institute of Oceanography                      OBS Technician
Peter Lemmond – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute           OBS Technician
Mark Gibaud – Scripps Institute of Oceanography                    OBS Technician
Dave Dubois – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute                OBS Technician

Research scientists and graduate students of the scientific party aboard the R/V Endeavor. From left to right - Pamela Moyer, Jennifer Harding, Afshin Aghayan, Dylan Meyer, Kathryn Volk, Brandon Dugan, Harm van Avendonk, and Gary Linkevich. (Photo Credit: Gary Linkevich) The scientific party (partial group photo above), assisted by the magnificent crew of the R/V Endeavor, will hopefully start our OBS deployment by Sept. 16th on lines 2 and 3, completing enough of the deployments on Line 2 such that the R/V Langseth can begin shooting as soon as they are on station and their equipment is deployed. From that point, we will recover all the OBSs and redeploy them along lines 1, 4a, and 4b in time for the R/V Langseth to begin shooting those MCS lines sometime on Sept. 30th. The OBSs will then be recovered and the R/V Endeavour will steam back to Quonset Point, arriving some time on or before Oct. 13th (knock on wood).

Before any science could commence, however, we all participated in a mandatory safety lecture and ship orientation. We tried out the “Gumby” Immersion Suits (pictured below), learned the essential emergency procedures, and were introduced to the myriad of safety equipment available on the R/V Endeavor. I have no doubts that the University of Rhode Island has provided us with a superbly safe working and living environment.

Testing out the "Gumby" suits during the safety orientation after getting under way. (Photo Credit: Gary Linkevich)We’ve started our 12-hours on/off shift schedule now and I can already start to feel people falling into a routine. As we steam ahead with the wind from astern and following seas, the scientists on watch make preparations, calculations, and estimations aimed at improving our efficiency, while those off watch read, rest, and relax in anticipation of their next watch. The sun is shining, the seas are calm, and everyone is excited to get to work.

Till next time,
Dylan Meyer aboard the R/V Endeavor

Graceful, Tiny, Toothy Ancestors

Geopoetry - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 09:00
An artist's illustration of the tree-dwelling mammal Xianshou songae (by Zhao Chuang). The discovery of three new Jurassic species suggests that mammals evolved earlier and diversified more rapidly thank previously thought.

An artist’s illustration of the tree-dwelling mammal Xianshou songae (illustration by Zhao Chuang). The discovery of three new Jurassic species suggests that mammals evolved earlier and diversified more rapidly than previously thought.


With body spry, tail curly,

This mammal showed up early.

Did Xianshou squeak?

If bones could speak …

These might say “I’m squirrely!”




Further reading:

Chisel-toothed beasts push back origin of mammals, National Geographic

Three new Jurassic euharamiyidan species reinforce early divergence of mammals, Nature

This is one in a series of poems written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.



Report: Trees in Trouble in the West - (Montana) Great Falls Tribune

Featured News - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:00
Cites climate research by Lamont's Park Williams.

Urban Waste Threatens Fisheries in Arabian Sea - Telegraph India

Featured News - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 09:37
Cites new research led by Lamont's Helga Gomes and Joaquim Goes.

Stunning Emerald Green Arabian Sea May Herald Ecosystem Disaster - LiveScience

Featured News - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:34
A new study in Nature Communications led by Lamont's Helga Gomes and Joaquim Goes documents a massive shift at the base of the Arabian Sea food chain.

A Texas-sized Dead Zone Threatens 120 Million People - Quartz

Featured News - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 11:00
Summary of study led by Lamont's Helga Gomes and Joaquim Goes.

Can Carbon Capture Technology Be Part of the Climate Solution? - Yale e360

Featured News - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:00
Cites carbon capture research of Lamont's Peter Eisenberger and David Goldberg.


Geopoetry - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 07:00
 Jennifer Hall

An artist’s vision of how Dreadnoughtus schrani would have appeared. Credit: Jennifer Hall


If you, like me, are something of a paleo-romantic,

Swooning over dinosaurs both fearsome and gigantic,

Come feast your eyes on new reports the bone-hunters have brought us:

“Fearing nothing” means its name – the mighty beast Dreadnoughtus!

Seven times as heavy as Tyrannosaurus rex,

This gentle vegan creature boasted tons of muscle flex.

Patagonian earth under its massive feet would quake,

What a silhouette at dawn a family would make!

Even ‘mongst Titanosaurids, this one breaks the ceiling,

A shoulder blade as tall as I am – God, it sets me reeling.

On top of that, when this one died, it wasn’t yet mature …

How much more would it have grown? We can not be quite sure.

3D-scanning, high-tech models try to help us see one,

But why were creatures bigger then? What was it like to be one?

Children are the best at this, working on all fours,

Today, I think I’ll try it too: fear nothing, shake the floors!



Further reading:

Giant dinosaur unearthed in Argentina, Science SHOT

A Gigantic, Exceptionally Complete Titanosaurian Sauropod Dinosaur from Southern Patagonia, Argentina, Nature

New “Dreadnought” Dinosaur Most Complete Specimen of a Giant, Scientific American

This is one in a series of poems written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.

Waste Injection Well Owner Says Shutdown Would Harm Industry - Youngstown Vindicator

Featured News - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 13:19
The Northstar 1 brine injection well in Youngstown, Ohio, was closed after a series of earthquakes. Lamont-Doherty researchers later linked the tremors to the injection of waste fracking fluid underground.

California's 100-year Drought - USA Today

Featured News - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 08:34
Lamont's Park Williams and Ed Cook comment on California's prolonged drought.

American Southwest Faces a Megadrought - Modern Farmer

Featured News - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 16:38
Lamont's Jason Smerdon and Richard Seager quoted.

Atlantis Seeks Sunken Science in Coastal Waters - Chinook Observer

Featured News - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 11:00
Cites an upcoming research expedition led by Lamont's Suzanne Carbotte.

'Megadrought' Risk up to 50 percent, Scientists Say - Arizona Daily Star

Featured News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 11:00
Lamont's Jason Smerdon comments on a new study upping the odds of a long-term drought across the Southwest.
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