Lamont Weekly Report, May 6, 2016

     The highlight of the first half of this week for the Lamont community was the election on Tuesday morning of Maureen Raymo to the National Academy of Sciences ( A Stacy Morford story on Maureen and her work mentions that she joins ten other Lamont scientists who are NAS members ( The two Earth scientists elected as Foreign Associates of the National Academy this year also have long-term ties to Lamont, An Zhisheng of the Institute of Earth Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and 2013 Vetlesen Laureate Jean Jouzel of the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement of l’Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in France.

      A cruise of the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falcor with Vicki Ferrini aboard returned to port in Suva, Fiji, on Wednesday with spectacular topographic maps of the youngest volcanic island in the Tonga group ( Informally named Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’Apai, the island was born in January 2015 by a surtseyan eruption. David Funkhouser’s story on Vicki’s contributions to the mapping efforts was posted on our web site this week (

     In today’s issue of Science is a paper coauthored by Spahr Webb reporting observations with seafloor instruments of a slow-slip seismic event along the Hikurangi subduction zone east of New Zealand. A slow-slip event involves fault movement with slip magnitudes and affected fault areas that can be comparable to those of normal earthquakes, but over timescales of weeks to years instead of seconds. The Hikurangi Ocean Bottom Investigation of Tremor and Slow Slip (HOBITSS) experiment involved the deployment of 15 ocean-bottom seismometers and 24 absolute pressure gauges, the latter sensitive to vertical motions of the seafloor. The slow event recorded by the network involved slip along the shallow portion of the subduction-zone plate interface equivalent in seismic moment to a magnitude 6.8 earthquake over a period of two to three weeks during September and October 2014. The same portion of the plate interface ruptured in an earthquake in 1947 that generated a large tsunami, an observation that Spahr and his colleagues suggest hints at a possible link between slow-slip events and tsunami-capable fault zones.

     In the news, Kim Kastens was quoted in a ClimateWire story late last week on the decision by the state of West Virginia, with its politically powerful coal mining industry, to include climate change and the role of human activity in global warming as part of its public school curriculum ( Adam Sobel was interviewed for a Chris Mooney story in The Washington Post the same day on the role of human-induced climate change in the ocean warming that led to the recent widespread bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef (

     Lamont's third annual Research as Art exhibition has been on display for a week so far in the Lamont Café. At the exhibit premiere last Friday, attendees cast votes for their favorite works. Second place went to a social network analysis of water managers in the Caribbean region submitted by IRI’s Ashley Curtis, Dannie Dinh, Angel Muñoz, and Cathy Vaughan. First place went to Anna Barth for her petrographic thin section of a garnet containing calcite-filled cracks and surrounded by a reaction rim of mica. The winning entries and more can be viewed in a photo essay written by Kyle Frischkorn (

     The highlight of the second half of the week is this afternoon’s W. S. Jardetzky Lecture ( This year’s Jardetzky Lecturer is Lamont alumnus and Crafoord Laureate Peter Molnar, Professor of Geophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder ( Peter is spending the month of May at the Observatory. His lecture, at 3:30 pm in Monell Auditorium, will be on "Laurentide ice sheets, the emergence of the isthmus of Panamá, and the Great American Biotic Interchange: A red herring inserted between climatic cause and biological effect."

     A reception will follow the Jardetzky Lecture, and the reception will afford us the opportunity to offer a toast to our newest National Academy of Sciences member. So both highlights of the week can be celebrated together, and I hope that you will join me for the festivities.