Sixty years ago, with the purchase and refit of a 200' pleasure yacht renamed the Vema, Maurice Ewing inaugurated Lamont's exploration of the largely unknown terrain beneath the world's oceans. Today, members of the Marine Geology and Geophysics (MG&G) Division remain explorers at heart, motivated by curiosity to understand some of the most remote and forbidding parts of our planet, from the deepest oceans to the polar ice sheets.
Over the years, the tools of exploration have improved from simple echosounders and towed seismic source-and-receiver instruments, to MultiChannel Seismic (MCS) Reflection techniques which allow us to probe more deeply into the Earth and multibeam bathymetric and side-looking sonar imagers for mapping large areas of the seafloor in ever greater detail. While the surface ship has remained the "work horse" of MG&G research, other types of platforms and vehicles are playing an increasingly important role in our efforts. These include satellites, with their ability to cover large areas of the oceans very rapidly (and revisit the same area many times), and innovative remote sensing equipment, as well as data systems for mapping and visualizations. The Lamont-built IcePod offers an airborne integrated ice imaging system that can measure in detail both the ice surface and the ice bed. The Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS) provides a suite of tools and services for accessing marine geoscience research data acquired throughout the global oceans and adjoining continental margins. It is fair to say that making new and exciting observations of the ice sheets and geological processes occurring on and beneath the seafloor is a key element of research undertaken in the MG&G Division.
An early success of marine geophysical research was the discovery of seafloor spreading, which led to the general acceptance of plate tectonics as the broad foundation for understanding how our planet works. Communities of scientists emerged to test hypotheses generated by the plate tectonics paradigm in the oceans. Notable among these efforts were the National Science Foundation's Ridge 2000 and MARGINS programs, in which Lamont's MG&G scientists play leading roles. Lamont scientists have used ocean drilling data and technology to study the sediments and hard rocks beneath the seafloor, as well as the fluids that flow through them. One of Lamont's major contributions to scientific ocean drilling was the establishment of the Borehole Research Group to provide down-hole geophysical measurement services to the Ocean Drilling Program (now the International Ocean Discovery Program), developing new types of borehole logging instruments, adapting oil-field logging tools for use in ocean research drilling, and maintaining a database of all logging measurements on behalf of the ocean drilling community.