Lamont Weekly Report, August 29, 2014

    Our active planet was much in the news this week. The magnitude 6.0 earthquake near Napa, California, on Sunday morning damaged many of the older structures in the town center, notwithstanding a media focus on the sideshow of broken barrels and bottles of wine ( Our continent was bookended by hurricanes Cristobal in the Atlantic and Marie in the eastern Pacific. Migrating earthquake activity marked the movement of subsurface magma beneath the Bardarbunga volcano complex in central Iceland, and a fissure eruption early today led the country’s Meteorological Office to raise the declared risk of an ash-producing eruption that would endanger air travel through the region (
     The Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division welcomed the arrival this week of former Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow and Storke-Doherty Lecturer Einat Aharanov. Now an Associate Professor at the Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University in Jerusalem (, Einat will spend her sabbatical year on the Lamont Campus. She works on a broad range of solid and fluid dynamical processes in Earth science, ranging from pressure solution/dissolution and deformation in carbonates and clays, to frictional properties of granular materials on faults, to physical models for landslide run outs.
     Visiting with Einat is postdoctoral scientist Stanislav Parez, who holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic. A specialist on numerical models of fluid-solid systems who is also now at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Stanislav will be focusing during his time at Lamont on the dynamics of landslides.
    The Geochemistry Division welcomed the arrival on Wednesday of part-time Visiting Research Scientist Lei Wang, an Associate Professor in the School of the Environment at Nanjing University. An expert in the field of environmental exposure and assessment, Lei will work at Lamont with Beizhan Yan, Steve Chillrud, and Ben Bostick on the onsite remediation of arsenate in contaminated soils and the exploration of associations between air pollutants and adverse health outcomes in China.
    The R/V Langseth spent the week at sea as part of a three-week cruise led by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey to map sediment thickness along the outer Atlantic continental margin of the eastern U.S. The work is part of the multi-agency Extended Continental Shelf/Law of the Sea (ECS/LOS) project to characterize the seafloor beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone. The ship hauled in gear and headed northwestward on Wednesday evening to move far from the path of Cristobal, but she was able to conduct multi-beam surveying and headed back to the main work area on Thursday.
    An orientation for the new DEES graduate students, organized in large part by the Graduate Student Committee – led by Kyle Frischkorn, Laura Haynes, and Sam Phelps – was held on the Lamont Campus on Tuesday afternoon. On arrival, the students had their photographs taken for the student photo boards, and they were treated to a catered lunch on the Comer deck. They then met with Carol Mountain and Sally Odland to hear an overview of the department, logistics, registration, class selection, financial support, and what to expect during their first few weeks. The students then went on a campus tour on which other students gave brief talks about resources and activities in their respective buildings. After briefly meeting with me, the students disbursed to locate their offices, meet advisers, and introduce themselves to division administrators. The GSC arranged a pizza party that evening at one of the student's apartments. On Wednesday, the new students spent the day at Morningside to attend the GSAS Orientation and an afternoon barbeque. Any lingering impression that graduate life is all orientations and free food will be dispelled once classes begin next Tuesday.
    Also on Tuesday, Columbia University’s Dean of Science, Amber Miller, announced the launch of a new website for the university’s Science Initiative, a development program designed to strengthen the sciences at Columbia ( The website includes the strategic plan for the initiative and related documents, news stories from Columbia’s science departments, videos that highlight members of the science faculty and their work, and announcements of upcoming events.
    The Washington Post this week published five editorials, one each weekday, on the topic of climate change and the need for a national policy to address carbon dioxide emissions (e.g., In the news this week from Lamont was Felix Waldhauser, whose methods for precisely locating earthquakes revealed early clues to the fault strand that hosted Sunday’s Napa earthquake (
    Whether this week has affected your cruise on a ship in the western Atlantic, your flight on an aircraft with a route over Iceland, or your choice of California wines at a local restaurant, may you enjoy the three-day weekend and an appreciation of the American labor movement for which Monday’s holiday was established.