LDEO Research Blogs

  • The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in San Francisco, is the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists. Scores of researchers from the Earth Institute will give presentations. Read about the 2015 and past years’ meetings here.

  • As volcanologists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, we love everything lava. Right now, we’re exploring how the structure of the surfaces lava flows over influences how it advances. Does it matter if the lava is flowing on loose sand or solid rocks? On a road or a grassy field or into a forest?

    We headed to the “Volcanologists’ Disneyland” — also known as Iceland — to find out.

  • The U.S. GEOTRACES program launches into the Arctic Ocean as part of a multi-nation, multiple ice-breaker effort to study marine trace elements. Trace elements play two opposing roles in the ocean, as both essential nutrients (iron, zinc, cobalt) and as toxins (arsenic, copper) affecting biologic productivity and carbon cycling. Studying these elements in the Arctic marine system can help us understand the biogeochemical responses to rapid climate change. Lamont-Doherty geochemist Tim Kenna is on the U.S. team, aboard the USCG Cutter Healy research icebreaker.

  • The rocks beneath the coastal plain of Georgia were at the center of the most fundamental tectonic events to shape eastern North America: continental collision around 290 million years ago to form the super continent of Pangea; continental breakup leading to the formation of the Atlantic Ocean beginning around 230 million years ago; and one of the biggest magmatic events in Earth’s history around 200 million years ago, the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. A record of these events and possible relationships between them is preserved by structures in the crust of southern Georgia, including a suture between two different types of continent, the largest failed rift basin along the east coast of North America and igneous rocks from the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. We will collect seismic refraction data, which can be used to image structures in the crust to understand these tectonic events. During March 2014, over 1000 geophones will be deployed along a ~300-km-long profile across the suture and the basin, which will record sound waves generated by a series of controlled blasts spaced ~20 km apart. The speed that sound waves travel through rocks varies with rock type. We will use these data to create velocity models that reveal the distribution of igneous rocks, variations in the thickness of the crust and variations in crustal composition. Besides a better understanding of fundamental tectonic processes, other benefits of this program include training and education of students, and characterization of basins and igneous rocks that might be good targets for carbon sequestration.

  • The ice sheet that drains into West Antarctica's Amundsen Sea is about the size of Texas and two miles thick. Home to two of Antarctica's five biggest glaciers-Pine Island and Thwaites-this region holds enough ice to raise global sea level 1.2 meters. Understanding how the ice changed from the last ice age to today will help us predict future sea level rise. Join Lamont-Doherty marine geologist Frank Nitsche on his voyage aboard the Swedish ice-breaking ship, the Oden.