LDEO Research Blogs

  • South Africa is the world’s top producer of platinum, used in everything from jewelry to catalytic converters. Most of it comes from a geological formation the size of West Virginia, called the Bushveld igneous complex, created two billion years ago as molten lava from Earth’s mantle bubbled to the surface and cooled. Lamont-Doherty graduate student Jill VanTongeren is traveling through the Bushveld collecting rocks to learn more about how this unique and mineral-rich region formed. Read about her work here.

     

  • Driven by processes in the deep earth over millions of years, the East African Rift is slowly tearing the continent apart, producing earthquakes and volcanoes along its 2,400-mile track. A scientific team including Donna Shillington, James Gaherty and Cornelia Class of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is working in Malawi and Tanzania to understand the causes, the long-term evolution, and the real-time hazards.

  • The Arctic is changing with a rapidity that has amazed scientists. The Greenland ice sheet is shrinking, sending over 48 cubic miles a year of ice streaming into the oceans, while Arctic sea ice cover continues to track below average. These changes will have significant effects regionally and globally.  Scientists from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are flying over the region on a NASA-led mission called Operation IceBridge to understand what is happening on and below the ice.

  • Indonesia's Puncak Jaya, earth's highest island peak and the tallest mountain between the Andes and the Himalayas, holds the last glaciers in the tropical Pacific. Ancient ice from such high, frozen peaks lets scientists examine past climates and understand mechanism of possible future climate changes--but with alpine glaciers melting, retrieving samples is a race against time, as well as against the dangers of extreme altitude. This month, an expedition co-organized by glaciologist Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University and oceanographer Dwi Susanto of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scales Puncak Jaya to drill out ice cores that may go back hundreds, or thousands, of years. Follow Susanto’s reports from the field here.

  • Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes shake southern Italy frequently, as they have for 12 million years. In that time, tectonic movement has split Calabria--the "toe" of the Italian boot--from what are today the islands of Sardinia and Corsica to the west, and formed mountain ranges. As part of the international Calabrian Arc Project, Lamont-Doherty scientists Nano Seeber and Meg Reitz are traversing Calabria to examine rocks and study the terrain to better understand this complex and violent history. Read about their work here.