Lamont Weekly Report, May 20, 2016

     The week began sadly for the extended Lamont family with the news that one of our most distinguished members, John Imbrie, passed away last Friday. Considered one of the founders of modern paleoceanography, John taught at Columbia's Department of Geological Sciences (now the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences) from 1952 to 1967 and served as department chair. The recipient of many awards and honors, John shared the 1996 Vetlesen Prize. A Stacy Morford story on our web site sums up many of John’s contributions and their impact ( 

     The closing of one chapter was balanced by the opening of many others, as DEES students were granted degrees during Columbia’s Commencement Week. Ph.D. degrees were conferred this week to Chen Chen, Raj Moulik, Stephen Veitch, and Anastasia Yanchilina, in addition to those awarded in February to Angel Muñoz, Meg Reitz, Cassy Rose, Jing Sun, Kari Tsukui, Marc Vankeuren, and Mike Wolovick. Bachelor’s degrees this week were awarded to Kirsten Arnell, Parker Chase, Hannah Cohen, Elizabeth Finch, Chason Goldschmitz, Ana Gonzalez, Allison Hooks, Adrian Jaycox, Johee Kim, Sara Mead, Ji Woon Park, Kevin Roy, Andres Salazar Estrada, Melissa Seto, Miljan Todorovic, and Zachary Wiles.  Congratulations to all! 

     The Geochemistry Division welcomed two visitors this week. Eduardo Piovano, an Associate Research Professor at the Centro de Investigaciones en Sciencias de la Tierra, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina ( is visiting Lamont for three months as a Fulbright Senior Scholar hosted by Mike Kaplan and Gisela Winckler. A sedimentologist and limnogeologist, Eduardo reconstructs paleoenvironments and paleoclimates from the Late Glacial to the last millennium in southeastern South America. 

     Bob Finkel, a pioneer in terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide science from the University of California, Berkeley, arrived this week for his annual visit and will stay until early June. Bob will work with the cosmogenic nuclide group on the exposure history of the bedrock recovered from the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two (GISP2) ice core. His Lamont host is Joerg Schaefer. 

     In an article published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Gisela, Bob Anderson, and their colleagues showed – on the basis of proxy records for dust and phytoplankton production – that the flux of iron-bearing dust and productivity over the past 500,000 years in the equatorial Pacific are temporally decoupled, implying that productivity there was controlled by other processes, most likely ocean dynamics. Their work further undercuts the idea that iron fertilization in the oceans, at least in the equatorial Pacific, might enhance phytoplankton production and lead to increases in the take-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide and deposition of carbon onto the seafloor. A Stacy Morford release on their findings was posted on our web site Monday (, and the story was carried that day by Gizmodo ( 

     Posted on Lamont’s web site on Tuesday is a photo essay by Kevin Krajick on the field trip led by Philipp Ruprecht to the Quizapu volcano in Chile last February ( The field party included scientists from Lamont, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Michigan, as well as students from Columbia, the University of Chile, and the University of Concepción. Among those shown in the photos and an accompanying video are Philipp, Einat Lev, Megan Newcombe, Elise Rumpf, and Lucy Tweed. The expedition was funded by President Bollinger’s Global Innovation Fund and was facilitated by the Columbia Global Center in Santiago. 

     Two Chris Mooney stories in The Washington Post this week quoted Lamont scientists. A comment from Marco Tedesco was included in an article Monday on the unusually warm conditions documented in the Arctic so far this year ( A quote from Robin Bell appeared in an article Wednesday about the potential instability of the Totten Glacier, the largest glacier in East Antarctica ( On the day in between, Peter deMenocal was interviewed by Karah Preiss on HuffPost Video in a story on the Anthropocene ( 

     On Monday and Tuesday next week, Lamont’s contributions to our current understanding of plate tectonics, from half a century ago to the present, will be celebrated in a two-day symposium ( that will be held in Monell Auditorium. Organized by a committee chaired by Bill Ryan and Roger Buck, the symposium will feature talks by Bill, Enrico Bonatti, Jim Cochran, Peter Kelemen, Dennis Kent, Paul Olsen, Terry Plank, Maureen Raymo, Donna Shillington, Lynn Sykes, and me, as well as Lamont alumni and friends Tanya Atwater, Steve Cande, Dan Davis, Don Forsyth, Jeff Fox, Bryan Isacks, Xavier Le Pichon, Peter Molnar, Neil Opdyke, Manik Talwani, and Tony Watts. The event will be a combination of scientific retrospective, a refresher on recent scientific progress and current challenges, and a family reunion. I hope to see you there.