Lamont Weekly Report, June 27, 2014

    Today ends the final full week of the academic year, and the last few days have been filled with reappointment letters, personnel actions, and year-end budget issues.
    I am pleased to announce that Alberto Malinverno has been appointed a Lamont Research Professor, effective 1 July. Alberto has held a Senior Research Scientist position at Lamont since 2005.
    I am delighted to add that five members of our research faculty have been promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff, also as of 1 July. The five include Michela Biasutti, Ben Bostick, Ben Holtzman, Mike Kaplan, and Donna Shillington.
    In more good news, Mahdad Parsi has been named Lamont’s Director of Research Computing and Campus Infrastructure, effective next month. Mahdad has been serving as Interim Director of Information Technology at the Observatory since early 2012.
    Please join me in congratulating all of our colleagues for their well-earned promotions.
    Peter deMenocal has been tapped by the American Geophysical Union to give their 2014 Emiliani Lecture. The lecture, named for the micropaleontologist and paleoceanographer Cesare Emiliani and sponsored by AGU’s Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Focus Group, will be given at the AGU Fall Meeting in December. Previous Emiliani Lecturers include Wally Broecker and Mo Raymo and alumni Delia Oppo, Christina Ravelo, and Bill Ruddiman.
    The R/V Langseth sailed from Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, having successfully completed all shipyard work and inspections. She arrived at the SUNY Maritime College this morning, and a photographer we engaged acquired a number of images of our flagship as she sailed past the Statue of Liberty, the Battery, and Brooklyn Bridge. The Langseth is scheduled to embark next Tuesday on a cruise led by Greg Mountain of Rutgers University to conduct a three-dimensional multi-channel seismic exploration of the continental shelf off New Jersey in the vicinity of IODP Expedition 313 drilling sites.
    On Monday, Steve Cohen and I met with David Madigan, Columbia’s Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Discussion topics ranged broadly over scholarly and financial opportunities for enhanced connections between Arts and Sciences and the Earth Institute, including Lamont.
    On Wednesday night, many from Lamont were part of an audience of 400 who experienced SeismoDome in the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. The video and audio exhibition of earthquake seismicity and wave propagation was conceived and led by Ben Holtzman in partnership with Jason Candler, a musician and sound engineer affiliated with the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Through a masterful mix of animations and sound, Ben and Jason simulated patterns of earthquake occurrences in space and time and the paths and amplitudes of seismic body and surface waves through three-dimensional models of Earth’s interior. The simulations provided a captivating backdrop to discussions of the causes of earthquakes, the use of seismic waves to image the structure of the mantle and core, and the challenges to earthquake prediction.
    You may have noticed a radar speed sign on the main road into our campus. This sign has been set up to encourage drivers to obey the posted speed limit (20 mph) and to help protect pedestrians and wildlife. Please do your part to keep our campus safe.
    In a paper posted online by Science magazine on Thursday, Leo Pena and Steve Goldstein make the case that a slowdown or stoppage of the deep-ocean thermohaline circulation accompanied the mid-Pleistocene transition nearly one million years ago, when the glacial-interglacial period increased from about 40 to about 100 thousand years and ice ages became more intense ( Leo and Steve postulate that the slowdown in the current system, documented with measurements of neodymium isotopes as a tracer of North Atlantic water taken up by ancient foraminifera in sediments off the coast of South Africa, may have facilitated a drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide and growth of high-latitude ice sheets that stabilized the longer glacial cycle. The article has garnered media attention, including a story Thursday on Live Science (
    On the Lamont Log ( this week, there is a story and accompanying video on the underway oceanographic cruise on which our ocean-bottom seismometer group will recover 32 OBSs that have been on the seafloor off the coast of Oregon collecting records of regional and distant earthquakes; Maya Tolstoy is co-chief scientist on the cruise. Accompanying newly posted articles include a story on the honorary degree that Wally Broecker received from Oxford University this week, a blog by Jesse Farmer on communicating climate science, an AGU “postcard from the field” from Sarah Lambart in Oman, and a reminder that nominations for the 2015 Vetlesen Prize are due next week.
    On Monday of next week, Bill Smethie will step down as Associate Director for Geochemistry after heading that division since 2008. Please join me in thanking Bill for his six years of service to his colleagues and to Lamont.
    As we look ahead to a shortened workweek and a new academic year, may you enjoy a warm and generally sunny June weekend.