Living Antarctic
diatom, x200

Fossil Arctic
diatom, x3000

Living Tropical
diatom X6000

Living Antarctic
diatom, x3500


Lamont is Columbia University's world-class earth science research and educational institute, where intensive studies of our planet have been conducted since its founding in 1949 by legendary marine geologist Maurice Ewing. Much of what is now known about the earth has been formulated at Lamont, and some of this research was supported by discoveries revealed on ultramicroscopic levels by the scanning electron microscope (SEM) that took these pictures and its predecessor, and chemically characterized with the attached energy-dispersive X-ray analyzer (EDX). Recently, Lamont joined several other scientific, engineering, and humanities departments of Columbia University to form the Columbia Earth Institute (CEI), which is devoted to creating the knowledge base, educating the public and its leaders, and developing innovations that will help us become responsible stewards of our planet. For more information on Lamont and the CEI, visit their home pages at and

In the late 1960s Lamont acquired one of the first SEMs available in the United States. This was a brand new technology that revealed a previously invisible world and over the next ten years that instrument (a Cambridge S4) helped to solve many of the earth's mysteries, revealing subtle details of a microworld that could never have been imagined before.

Lamont's current SEM, a Cambridge 250, has continued the tradition. A Kevex 8000 energy-dispersive X-ray analyzer (EDX) attached to the SEM determines the chemical composition of whole specimens or specific features on their surfaces, greatly expanding the lab's research contributions. Lamont's SEM/EDX Facility is open to all, and in addition to many fields within the earth sciences has contributed to studies in disciplines as diverse as materials science, chemical, electrical and civil engineering, archaeology, and medical research. Scientists, faculty and students from many universities, institutes, museums and colleges besides Columbia have found answers to their scientific curiosity here.


Dee Breger
Mgr. SEM/EDX Facility
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
61 Route 9W Palisades, NY 10964 USA
T: 914/365-8640 F: 914/365-8155