Lamont Weekly Report, October 28, 2016

     The Lamont community was saddened by the death this past weekend of University of Maine glaciologist Gordon Hamilton, whose snowmobile fell into a crevasse in an ice sheet shear zone during fieldwork in Antarctica. A Justin Gillis story in the Science Times section of The New York Times on Tuesday captured Gordon, his work, and its importance for climate science ( The excitement of exploration and the demands of a field measurement campaign can be alluring temptresses that inure the best of us to the perils of a harsh environment.

     On Thursday last week, together with the New York State Hudson River Estuary Program, Lamont hosted the 14th annual “Day in the Life of the Hudson River ( A Lamont team of a dozen scientists and staff worked with 100 high school students at the Piermont Pier for a full day of acquiring water samples for chemical analysis, taking sediment cores, seining for fish, sampling plankton, and characterizing the physical system. For many students, this event provides a first opportunity to conduct field sampling, and the support of the Lamont science team is an important contributor toward their success. Thanks to all from the Observatory who participated in the day’s activities.

     On Sunday, the R/V Langseth departed Arica, Chile, for the start of the PICTURES (Pisagua/Iquique Crustal Tomography to Understand the Region of the Earthquake Source) project, a collaborative effort by Oregon State University, GEOMAR, and the University of Chile to image crustal structure in the region of the 2014 Pisagua/Iquique earthquake. The science team plans a combined two-dimensional multi-channel seismic (MCS) and three-dimensional ocean-bottom seismometer (OBS) refraction survey. The project will use streamers of 12.5 km and 8 km length for different portions of the MCS work, and the ship’s air gun array will also provide a source for ~70 U.S. and German OBSs. GEOMAR’s GeoSURF wave glider will be used for a portion of the OBS work as well. The ship is scheduled to return to Arica on December 9. 

     New to Lamont’s web pages this week is a Stacy Morford story on the work of Dave Goldberg, Peter Kelemen, Joerg Matter, and Martin Stute on the capture and long-term subsurface storage of carbon dioxide ( A version of the story appeared earlier this month in Lamont’s 2016 Annual Report.

     Our Annual Report, we learned yesterday, received a MarCom Gold Award in an international design competition for creativity “in the concept, writing, and design of print, visual, audio, and web materials and programs.” The report was designed in partnership with Visual Fuel Design (

     On Tuesday, Farhana Mather and I visited Ambrose Monell and Maurizio Morello, both officers of the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation. We discussed recent activities at the Observatory and updated Ambrose and Maurizio on plans for the awarding of the 2017 Vetlesen Prize. The Vetlesen Foundation has supported research at Lamont at a generous level for many years, and Farhana and I delivered the clear message that those funds have provided critical resources to many of our younger scientists and fueled groundbreaking research that continues to change our understanding of the workings of our planet.

      Also on Tuesday, representatives of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management visited Lamont for the dedication of the Atlantic Sand Assessment Project core storage repository ( The cores were acquired as part of a BOEM-funded project to collect an inventory of potential sediment resources in federal waters offshore of 11 states along the U.S. Atlantic margin. The collection will be managed within the Lamont Core Repository. Renee Orr, chief of the BOEM Office of Strategic Resources, led the federal delegation, and Lamont participants at the dedication included Nichole Anest, Megan Carter, Kerstin Lehnert, Stacy Morford, and Mo Raymo. Also attending were state and university geologists from Maine, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina.

     On Wednesday, the American Geophysical Union’s Governance Committee published in Eos several metrics on the recently completed election that saw Bob Anderson, Robin Bell, and Kerstin Lehnert elected to leadership roles ( The number of AGU members who voted was 9517, or 21.1 percent of those eligible. Two years earlier, the comparable figures were 7591 and 16.2 percent. We can surmise that it was the outstanding caliber of the candidates this round that compelled a higher fraction of the electorate to participate. You may draw your own comparison with the Presidential election less than two weeks away.

     Wednesday was also Giving Day at Columbia. To everyone who participated from the Lamont community, thank you!

     This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by marine microbiologist Kay Bidle, Professor and member of the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Laboratory in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences ( Kay will be speaking on “Phytoplankton-virus arms races at sea: Placing subcellular controls on oceanographic scales.” I hope to see you there.