Lamont Weekly Report, November 27, 2013

    This week provides us with a reason to appreciate all that is special about Lamont: the shared sense of scientific mission, the pervasive intellectual excitement, and the consistently collegial tenor of our interactions.
    The passing of a former colleague, even one whose Lamont affiliation was decades past, gives us another occasion for appreciation. We learned this week of the death of Lois Ongley on 16 November ( A Professor of Geochemistry at Unity College in Maine, Lois worked from 1973 to 1975 as an Oceanographic Research Assistant in Mark Langseth’s heat flow group. One of the first women to serve as a shipboard technician on a Lamont vessel, she logged four cruises on the R/V Vema.
    Honors accorded to colleagues and major milestones met are also cause for thanks.
    On Monday, the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced that Arnold Gordon and Walter Pitman have been named Fellows of the AAAS, Arnold in the Section on Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences and Walter in the Section on Geology and Geography ( A news story by Kim Martineau summarizes the decades of contributions by our “two veteran oceanographers” ( Arnold and Walter will be honored at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago this February. Klaus Lachner from Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering was also named an AAAS Fellow.
    Also on Monday, Rafael Almeida successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on “Mechanisms and magnitude of Cenozoic crustal extension in the vicinity of Lake Mead, Nevada, and the Beaver Dam Mountains, Utah.” Please join me in congratulating Rafael, who has accepted a postdoctoral position at the Earth Observatory of Singapore to work with structural geologist Judith Hubbard.
    Chris Zappa’s group recently completed a High Wind Gas exchange Study (HiWinGS) cruise on the R/V Knorr in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Greenland. The goal of the cruise was to investigate the processes of air-sea gas exchange at high winds. A particular focus of Chris and his group was the effect of waves on gas exchange, through wave breaking and bubble-mediated exchange. Chris reports that the scientific party was “lucky” to experience 4–5 events of sustained winds above 20 m/s and one above 30 m/s (about 60 knots), because no previous measurements of this type had been made at winds above 20 m/s.
    On Tuesday, the Geochemistry Division welcomed visitor Stephen Eggins, a Fellow at the Research School for Earth Sciences at the Australian National University ( Steve will spend two weeks at Lamont to work with Bärbel Hönisch and her group.
    To our Ph.D. students, Sally Odland sent out a reminder on Tuesday that proposals for research grants ( are due next Monday. An endorsement letter from your advisor is required. As Columbia’s Provost John Coatsworth has been heard to say, “Don’t leave money on the table.”
    Two comets have made for interesting spacecraft and ground-based observations this week. Comet 2P/Encke passed within 0.025 AU of Mercury on 18 November and made its closest approach to the Sun three days later. Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON, discovered last year by two Russian astronomers who used a telescope in the International Scientific Optical Network) flew by Mercury on 19 November en route to its perihelion tomorrow. From its special vantage point in the inner solar system, the MESSENGER spacecraft has been acquiring targeted observations of the two comets with its imaging system and several spectrometers sensitive at wavelengths from X-rays to the infrared. Although not all of the measurements have been fully analyzed, the results are proving to be a scientific bonus for a Mercury orbital mission (
    We may all share thanks today for the three-day workweek and a consequently shorter weekly report. And may all of you have the good fortune tomorrow to spend time with friends and family.