Spring 2012 Public Lectures

The Public Lectures series began in 1999 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Lamont-Doherty. Each spring since then, four different Lamont researchers have given presentations on their current research.

NOTE: Sunday, April 22 lecture registration has reached capacity in the auditorium.  A live video feed will be available in the lobby for overflow seating.  We advise arriving early to secure seating in the overflow area. 

All lectures are from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m with a light reception to follow.

Admission is $5.00 at the door  - Wheelchair-accessible

Due to space limitations, registration is recommended

For location and directions to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory visit: LDEO

For registration and more information, contact: (845) 365-8998 or events@ldeo.columbia.edu

Sunday, March 18, 2012

antartica and its surrounding Oceans

>>CLICK HERE to watch a video of this lecture.

Heather Savage, Ph.D.
Lamont Assistant Research Director

Pratigya Polissar, Ph.D.
Lamont Assistant Research Professor


What Do Dead Plants Tell Us About Earthquakes?

Why do earthquakes occur? Key to understanding this is knowing the strength of faults. Strong faults can sustain large stresses; weak ones fail under much lower stresses. Because we cannot directly observe faults during earthquakes, we evaluate their strength after the fact by measuring how hot surrounding rocks became as they slid past one another (like rubbing your hands together). Such heating ‘cooks’ the fossilized remains of prehistoric plants in the fault rock, which we can measure to get a snapshot of the heating that occurred during an earthquake.




Sunday, March 25, 2012

Currents, Conveyors, and Climate Change

>>CLICK HERE to watch a video of this lecture.

Gregory Mountain, Ph.D.
Lamont Adjunct Senior Research Scientist,
Rutgers University Professor

Landscapes Beneath Our Feet


Mountains the size of the Himalayas once dominated the horizon west of the Hudson River. A massive lake rimmed with volcanoes and steaming vents once stretched from Lancaster, PA to New Haven, CT. What we know as the Jersey shore was once in Philadelphia. The remains of these extraordinary ancient landscapes lie beneath our feet, and have been the focus of much research. Studies of this region have profoundly influenced our understanding of fundamental natural processes occurring throughout the world. From building mountains to rifting continents and forming oceans, we’ll examine some of this globally-relevant evidence—much of it gathered within a day’s drive of the Observatory.

*This lecture is sponsored by the Lamont-Doherty Alumni Association





Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mapping the Source of Great  Alaskan Earthquakes

>>CLICK HERE to watch a video of this lecture.

Donna Shillington, Ph.D.
Lamont Assistant Research Professor


Mapping the Source of Great Alaskan Earthquakes

Subduction zones create the largest, most destructive earthquakes on the planet, but many mysteries remain about the plate tectonic boundaries where these quakes originate. One such boundary lies deep beneath the seafloor off Alaska—one of the most seismically active zones in the world. This area has produced fatal earthquakes and tsunamis similar to the recent one in Japan. In 1964, the second largest quake ever recorded happened here, and other parts of the fault may be building energy for another event. Shillington will describe how seismic data collected last summer aboard Lamont-Doherty’s research vessel, the Marcus G. Langseth, can image the Alaska subduction zone and provide better constraints on its potential for earthquakes.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Peak Earth: Population, Climate, and Energy in the 21st Century

>>CLICK HERE to watch a video of this lecture.

Peter Kelemen, Ph.D.
Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor

Peak Earth: Population, Climate, and Energy in the 21st Century

The number of inhabitants on Earth passed 7 billion in November, on the way to 9 or 10 billion by 2100. The energy demands of this growing population, together with exponential economic development, are significantly altering the natural environment. The steadily increasing use of oil, gas and coal is causing atmospheric CO2 to rise at an unprecedented rate, while these fossil fuels are becoming more expensive to extract. Alternative energy solutions have been slow to materialize, and those that do develop rapidly will encounter their own resource bottlenecks. On Earth Day, Kelemen will look ahead to consider the consequences of growth, discuss the potential for carbon management, and outline the current rush for commodities that are essential for a post-oil transition.