LDEO Research Blogs

  • The South China Sea is one of the most geopolitically contested marine realms on earth. But it is also of keen interest to geologists who want to understand how this ocean basin, bordered by China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, opened up. On an International Ocean Discovery Program cruise aboard the JOIDES Resolution, scientists will drill through seafloor sediments to understand how the basin reached its present form. Marine geologist Trevor Williams of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is directing downhole logging operations. Follow his dispatches from the ship here.

  • From the Himalayas to the Alps and Rockies, mountain glaciers are rapidly melting. A sign of a warming climate, their retreat may also threaten hydropower and water supplies for cities below. To put current trends in context, scientists at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are studying rocks that record the ebb and flow of ice since the last ice age, over the past 20,000 years. They will travel the high peaks of the Peruvian Andes, including Nevado Coropuna, a 22,000 foot volcano. Other scientists will study pre-Columbian remains on the mountains. Geologist Gordon Bromley reports from Peru, while geochemist Gisela Winckler writes from the Lamont campus.

  • South Africa is the world’s top producer of platinum, used in everything from jewelry to catalytic converters. Most of it comes from a geological formation the size of West Virginia, called the Bushveld igneous complex, created two billion years ago as molten lava from Earth’s mantle bubbled to the surface and cooled. Lamont-Doherty graduate student Jill VanTongeren is traveling through the Bushveld collecting rocks to learn more about how this unique and mineral-rich region formed. Read about her work here.

     

  • Climate change has weakened the ice sheets of western Antarctica. Scientists from Lamont-Doherty are flying over the region on a NASA-led mission called Ice Bridge to understand what's happening on and below the ice. What they find may help predict future sea level rise.

  • Indonesia's Puncak Jaya, earth's highest island peak and the tallest mountain between the Andes and the Himalayas, holds the last glaciers in the tropical Pacific. Ancient ice from such high, frozen peaks lets scientists examine past climates and understand mechanism of possible future climate changes--but with alpine glaciers melting, retrieving samples is a race against time, as well as against the dangers of extreme altitude. This month, an expedition co-organized by glaciologist Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University and oceanographer Dwi Susanto of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scales Puncak Jaya to drill out ice cores that may go back hundreds, or thousands, of years. Follow Susanto’s reports from the field here.

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