Lamont Weekly Report, July 8, 2016


The week was ushered in with fireworks as we all celebrated an 18th Century version of Brexit. 

On Tuesday, we welcomed more than 50 high school students and 10 undergraduates to participate in internships offered by the Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP), the Center for Climate and Life, and a program in partnership with the Lycée Français de New York. The SSFRP offers high school students the opportunity to work this summer alongside Lamont scientists (Ben Bostick, Liz Corbett, Bob Newton, Dorothy Peteet, Ray Sambrotto, and Margie Turrin), undergraduates, and educators conducting fieldwork in Piermont Marsh on seven different research teams (Carbon, Microbial Batteries/Ecosystem Solutions, Data Analysis/Video, Habitation Rehabilitation, Sediment Accretion and Sets, Nutrient Exchange, and Fiddler Crabs Marsh Occupation/Density). The Center for Climate and Life’s program hosts students who work on projects with Sid Hemming (Southern African Climates and the Agulhas Current System) and Billy D’Andrea (Back to the Future: Ancient Climate from Fossil Molecules). The Lycée program brings high school students who work with Einat Lev in the Fluid Mechanics Lab to better understand circulation in lava lakes, and with Brad Linsley in the Stable Isotope Lab to sample Pacific corals and analyze trace metals. The students involved in these programs will each produce a poster and presentation at the end of their project. Students from the Climate and Life and Lycée programs will present on Friday, July 29, from 2 to 3 pm in the Monell Auditorium, and SSFRP students will present on Monday, August 15, in the Monell Auditorium, at a time to be announced later. I encourage you attend these presentations to learn about the work of our young scientists. 

On Wednesday, the Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division announced that Kayla Sirois has filled their open Administrative Assistant position. Kayla holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Rhode Island, and she spent more than two years as a financial coordinator at Brown University before relocating to New York City, where she held several administrative positions prior to joining Lamont. Welcome, Kayla! 

Last week a large landslide in Glacier Bay National Park was discovered first by Colin Stark, Göran Ekström, and their colleagues from diagnostic records on regional and global seismic networks. A local pilot imaged the slide deposits hours later. One of his images heads a Stacy Morford story ( posted Saturday on the fieldwork that Colin is leading this summer to characterize that and other recent landslides and several slide-generated tsunamis along the major glaciers and fjords of southeastern Alaska, and the story was carried by Alaska Dispatch News and other media ( One goal of the work is to improve our understanding of the impact of glacial retreat in response to regional warming on the rate and magnitude of landslide events in the area. 

On Wednesday, Nature posted online a paper by Patty Lin, Jim Gaherty, Ge Jin, and colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Brown University on the anisotropy, or direction dependence, of shear wave velocity in the mantle beneath a region of the central Pacific southeast of Hawaii. The basic data set came from Rayleigh waves recorded by an ocean-bottom seismometer network deployed as part of the NoMelt Experiment. The team found that anisotropy is fastest in the lithospheric mantle, where the direction of fast shear wave propagation is coincident with the local direction of seafloor spreading at the time the crust and uppermost mantle formed. Anisotropy is weakest within the seismic low-velocity zone in the asthenosphere beneath the Pacific plate, it increases at greater depths, and the fast direction does not align with the direction of current plate motion at any depth. Their results imply that the highest strain in the mantle of the area occurred in the corner flow near the axis of the mid-ocean ridge at which this patch of crust and uppermost mantle formed, and little anisotropy is the result of shear on the convecting mantle imparted by current plate motion. A Stacy Morford story on the paper’s findings ( has been posted on our web site. 

The latest issue of the Journal of Astronomy & Earth Science Education includes an article by Kim Kastens and colleagues on “What geoscience experts and novices look at, and what they see, when viewing data visualizations.” The “geoscience experts” in question were fourteen Lamont scientists, and the “data visualizations” were GeoMapApp ( views of geologically distinct portions of bathymetry and topography. With the use of an eye-tracking device to track participant gaze directions as they viewed the data and answered interviewer questions, Kim and her colleagues found that novices and experts both invested their looking time preferentially at the most geologically significant features in each image. Although the novices looked at the same areas as the experts, they perceived far less, with proficiency among novices building in the order qualitative observations, simple interpretations, and finally quantitative observations.   

In the news this week, Klaus Jacob was interviewed for a story Tuesday in Rolling Stone on the vulnerability of New York City to climate change and rising sea level in particular ( WNYC ran a story yesterday on a project by Steve Chillrud and Darby Jack of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health on the measurement of urban air pollution and rates of respiration of pollutants by bicyclists in New York City ( 

As those of us in the New York City area face a warm weekend, we can take solace from an announcement yesterday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that last month was the hottest June on record for the continental U.S. ( At least our discomfort is noteworthy.