Lamont Weekly Report, November 6, 2015

If the importance of campus issues can be measured by the frequency of staff comments, then the most urgent issue for Lamont has been the poor state of repair of our campus roadways. The highlight of the week must therefore be the substantial completion of the first phase of repaving, including the entrance road, the roads around the Geoscience parking lot, and the road alongside Geoscience, the New Core Laboratory, Guest House 6, and Buildings and Grounds. The pothole repairs on other campus roads being conducted today and into the weekend should complete the work planned for this phase.

I am pleased to report that Nicolás Young has been appointed as a Lamont Assistant Research Professor, effective this week. A geochemist and Quaternary climate scientist, Nicolás had been a Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow for the past three years. His principal study areas are the ice sheets and glaciers of Greenland, Arctic Canada, and Alaska, and he applies cosmic-ray exposure dating at the margins of ice-covered areas to document intervals of ice expansion and retreat and their relation to periods of warming and cooling. Adept in the laboratory as well as the field, Nicolás has honed the analytical methodology for the in situ measurement of cosmogenic 14C in quartz as another powerful arrow in the quiver of Lamont’s Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory. Nicolás will receive the 2015 Blavatnik Young Scientist Award at the New York Academy of Sciences Annual Gala in the city next Monday (

On Thursday, Michael Wolovick successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on the topic of the “Basal dynamics and internal structure of ice sheets.” Mike’s committee included his thesis supervisor, Robin Bell, along with Roger Buck, Tim Creyts, Meredith Nettles, and Dorthe Dahl-Jensen from the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark. Mike’s next stop will be a postdoctoral position at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory beginning this January. Congratulations, Dr. Wolovick!

The Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division welcomed the arrival of Postdoctoral Research Scientist Clément Perrin, who joins the Observatory from the Géoazur Laboratory at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, where he obtained his Ph.D. last year under the supervision of Isabelle Manighetti. At Lamont, Clément will work with Chris Scholz and Felix Waldhauser on the mechanics of faults imaged by the precise locations of earthquake aftershocks.

On Monday and Tuesday, I was in Crystal City, Virginia, for a meeting hosted by NASA’s Earth Science and Interior (ESI) focus area. The meeting featured embedded acronyms – typical for NASA – in its title: Challenges and Opportunities for Research in ESI (CORE) Workshop. Jim Davis co-chaired the meeting, along with Louise Kellogg of the University of California, Davis, and Einat Lev was another participant. The goals of the workshop were to review the last strategic plan (2002) for solid Earth science at NASA, update that strategy on the basis of subsequent programs and findings, and prepare for the next decadal survey for Earth science and applications from space, now being organized under the auspices of the National Academies.

On Wednesday, a long interview of Robin Bell by Michael White was posted as part of the Forecast series ( Robin and the ROSETTA-Ice program she leads also received mention in a Nature story the same day (

Jeff Bowman added to his blog this week from Palmer Station, Antarctica, ( on his work on phytoplankton–bacteria interactions. Hugh Ducklow, Jeff’s supervisor, writes, “It is an unusual year at Palmer. There is persistent, heavy sea ice, permitting people to get out on the ice for sampling for the first time in over a decade (at least in spring time).”

In other media stories this week, Mark Cane’s work on developing the first successful El Niño model prediction and the establishment of IRI is the focus of an article Wednesday on Sci Dev (, and Peter deMenocal was quoted in a New Scientist story the same day on the contribution of climate change to human evolution in East Africa ( Wally Broecker’s role in warning President Lyndon Johnson about climate change 50 years ago was described in The Guardian yesterday (

For something a little different, you might view a film recently produced by Columbia students and posted on YouTube ( that was shot in part on the Lamont Campus, with the cooperation of our Facilities Management Office. Entitled “Edge of the Woods,” the film – according to Pat O’Reilly – is a “retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in a dystopian future. [Our] campus is featured as the land of the wolves outside the city walls, and our Main Seismic Vault is imagined as Grandma's house.”            

Two special events on Wednesday next week will be staged under the aegis of the Campus Life Committee and with the support of the Buildings and Grounds Office. At 3 pm that afternoon, Lamont will host a 5 km Fun Run, on a course contained entirely within campus grounds. Organized by Sjoerd Groeskamp, Zach Eilon, and Michael Sandstrom, the race will feature prizes for the fastest male and female runners and a trophy for the fastest Lamont Division. Following the Fun Run will be the Annual John Diebold Memorial Chili Cookoff in Lamont Hall. Hosted by the Graduate Student Committee (Kyle Frischkorn, Laura Haynes, and Sam Phelps), the cookoff will offer awards in several categories, including meat chili, vegetarian chili, cornbread, and dessert.

If that news whets your appetite for science, this afternoon’s colloquium will be given by Michael Poland, a Research Geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey who has just moved from the Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory to the Cascades Volcano Observatory (and was another participant in the NASA CORE Workshop earlier this week). An expert in the measurement of volcano deformation, particularly with interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), and their integration with other volcano monitoring tools, Michael will be speaking on “Variable magma supply to Kilauea, Hawai’i, and impact on eruptive activity.”

Following the colloquium, today’s TGIF will be hosted by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in memory of Missy Pinckert. By way of reminder, a more formal memorial to honor Missy’s life will be held one week from today at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack. The family has asked that those wishing to make a donation in Missy’s name do so to the World Wildlife Fund (, The Angeles Clinic Foundation (, or Grace Music (

Now that you no longer face the danger of being swallowed up by our worst potholes, I hope to see you at both the colloquium and TG.