Lamont Weekly Report, October 5, 2018

    This week was launched last Friday by the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami off Sulawesi, Indonesia, that tragically took more than 1,500 lives. The shallow earthquake was dominantly strike-slip in mechanism, a signature of motion between two of the many microplates that accommodate convergence of larger plates in the region, and the surprisingly large tsunami may have been the result of a submarine landslide or unusual focusing by near-coastal bathymetry (  Jim Gaherty was quoted in a story on the event that appeared Wednesday on Scientific American (

    The R/V Langseth continued with the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain Seismic Experiment ( this week. Co-Chief Scientist Donna Shillington wrote yesterday, “So far, we have collected >2000 km of seismic reflection data with the 15-km streamer of the Langseth along and across the Hawaiian Island chain, and the data are exceptional. From preliminary processing offshore, we can already see many important features for our scientific objectives, including reflections from the base of the oceanic crust and possible décollements on the flanks of the Big Island formed from volcanic spreading and slope failure.” The active part of the experiment will end on or about October 9, and the Langseth will then begin retrieving the 70 ocean-bottom seismometers deployed for the project. 

    The news this week included a feature article last Friday on Earther about Lamont’s Core Repository (, with quotes from Maureen Raymo, Nichole Anest, and Claire Jasper. Also on Friday, a Janet Babin web and radio story on Superstorm Sandy and climate change took her to the Greenland ice sheet to join fieldwork by Nicolás Young, University at Buffalo’s Jason Briner, and their students; Joerg Schaefer was interviewed for the third part of the Public Radio International story (

    Stories by science writers who accompanied field parties to the Greenland ice sheet have been particularly popular this week. On Monday, our web site gained a multi-media presentation by Kevin Krajick, who joined Marco Tedesco for his field studies on the nature of darkening of the ice surface in response to climate change and its resulting impact on summertime melting rates ( The lengthy story, a compelling travelogue, is accompanied by a video – with background music and a narrative by Marco – numerous photographs, and a link to more photos. Lamont Advisory Board member Dan Bennett, who participated in the fieldwork, is pictured as well.

    The fall issue of Autumn Years – a magazine with few Lamont subscribers – devotes six pages to an article on Taro Takahashi and his five decades of study of the ocean’s carbon dioxide cycle ({%22issue_id%22:524168,%22page%22:38}). On Monday, Earth Magazine posted a story on the work of Park Williams linking loss of cloud cover, soil moisture loss, and wildfire vulnerability to climate change and urbanization along coastal Southern California (

    On Wednesday, Lamont was visited by a group of successful Chinese business leaders, who had spent Monday and Tuesday on the Morningside Campus hearing about Columbia’s programs in precision medicine, neuroscience, data science, engineering, public policy, and Columbia World Projects. At Lamont, after introductions to the Earth Institute and Observatory by Alex Halliday and me, the group heard from Jim Gaherty on Anticipating Earthquakes, Dave Goldberg on Lamont’s programs in carbon capture and storage, Faye McNeill on Columbia University’s programs in aerosols and air pollution, Radley Horton on heat waves in a warming climate, and Robin Bell on Changing Ice, Changing Coastlines. Robin then led a tour of the IcePod lab, and Brendan Buckley hosted a tour of the Tree-Ring Laboratory. Logistical support for the event was provided by our development team, including Meghan Fay, Noelle Bannister, Ashley Sheed, Susan Holgate, John Halpin, Marian Mellin, Kathleen Crispin, and Ed Chan-Lizardo, Senior Director of Global Initiatives at the Office of Alumni and Development.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday, Postdoctoral Research Scientists, Postdoctoral Research Fellows, and Associate Research Scientists at Lamont and across Columbia University voted to be represented by the Columbia Postdoctoral Workers and United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (CPW-UAW). Of the 2057 eligible voters, 1068 actually voted. Of those voting, 729 voted in favor, and 338 voted against.

    Tomorrow, Lamont’s Open House will be only one week away. Many on the campus are engaged in preparatory activities, and the event web site ( is beginning to take shape and now includes a map of exhibits and a schedule of lectures at the four lecture venues. A new activity at Open House will be the testing of local soils for lead concentration by Lex van Geen and his group; attendees are being invited to bring soil samples from their yard or local park for a test that can be completed on the spot within a few minutes (

    In the meantime, our Earth Science Colloquium speaker this afternoon will be seismologist Collen Dalton, an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University ( Colleen will be speaking on “Seismological constraints on the evolution of oceanic lithosphere.” I hope that the evolution of your day will permit you to join me for her talk.