Lamont Weekly Report, March 25, 2011

One wouldn't know it from the snow we had earlier this week, but spring has finally sprung. A rafter of oven-sized turkeys strolled by my office last evening. The hens were pecking away at morsels on the ground, while a well-endowed tom (with a very big and colorful wattle) strutted behind, with his tail spread and feathers puffed out. The hens either ignored him or danced away. I went outside to take his picture, but he ran away. The hens stayed put. There are a few lessons here, I suppose.

I'm very pleased to convey the news that the Langseth will be resuming science operations this Sunday, transiting to Costa Rica to mobilize for Nathan Bangs' cruise. This is another significant milestone, enabled by the hard work of Sean Higgins, Dave Goldberg and the rest of the staff in our Office of Marine Operations.

There is such a thing as a free lunch. Over the next month, the Lamont-based data facility IEDA (Integrated Earth Data Applications) will sponsor a series of short lunchtime workshops, food provided (!), offering introductions to data systems and services, such as databases, mapping and visualization tools, that could be important resources for research and teaching. The series starts next Thursday, March 31, at 12PM in the Comer 3rd floor seminar room with an overview of geochemical databases. Please take advantage of these workshops and sign up at Contact Kerstin Lehnert at if you have questions. More info about IEDA is at If you forget the "data" in the url, you will be sent to Indiana.

The Board of the Lamont-Doherty Alumni Association will be meeting in Monell this Sunday, just before the next public lecture. The lecture itself will actually be a panel presentation on the state of the Hudson, with contributions from Andy Juhl, Greg O'Mullan, and the Riverkeeper's boat captain, John Lipscomb. We continue to have great turnout for these lectures; with the predicted weather, we expect an overflow crowd. Folks will learn whether they can swim in the river.

These lectures reinforce the connection people have with our science. This is by no means limited to passive interactions. For example, over the past two weeks, our Seismology Group has been asked to brief federal, state and county officials - and a private corporation - on the implications of regional seismicity for the safety of infrastructure, including Indian Point. Obviously, these discussions are amplified by the continuing disaster in Japan, but they also make the case that our work is not an abstraction.

This morning's Excom focused on several agenda items, including the decision to send the revised Lamont by-laws out for a staff vote, the resolution of an issue concerning sea pay, a discussion of post-doc mentoring, and developing a plan to deal with the issue of buying laptops on government grants. Details are forthcoming.

Finally, following what I hope is the last bit of snow, let's give public thanks to Dick Greco and his Buildings and Grounds crew, for all they've done this winter to keep the campus clear and operational. Our campus is a great prize, but it's hard to keep it up and running, especially when we have a winter like the one just past. And, now, it's time for a good spring cleaning.