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Lamont Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Adjunct Professor
Earth and Environmental Sciences
304B Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
(845) 365-8156


Fields of interest: 
Geophysics; Land Surface Processes, Remote Sensing; Population and Environment.

Prior to 1992, the surfaces of Venus and Mars had been mapped in greater detail than the surface of Earth. Recent advances in remote sensing now provide us with detailed maps of seafloor structure and synoptic views of Earth's land surface. Remotely sensed observations also allow us to quantify the spatial and temporal dynamics of the Earth system. Quantifying these dynamics is the first step toward understanding them. Geophysics provides powerful tools and concepts that can be used to quantify and understand the dynamics of the Earth system. My research interests focus on the application of geophysics, remote sensing and spatio-temporal analysis to the study of the Earth system. Remotely sensed observations provide a necessary synoptic complement to field measurements. Similarly, field validation is necessary to calibrate remotely sensed measurements. Field validation also provides justification for travel.

Since coming to Columbia in 1993, My interest in the Earth system has expanded to include its biospheric components. Recognition that the tools and concepts of geophysics can be applied to a wider range of questions has resulted in a number of cross-disciplinary collaborations ranging from tropical deforestation monitoring to urban growth mapping. My current research interests center on the use of satellite remote sensing to quantify changes in Earth's surface and the causes and consequences of these changes. These interests have recently taken me to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, the North Fiji Basin, the Ethiopian highlands,  the Galapagos Archipelago, the Gobi Desert, the Belize River Basin and the Peruvian Andes.

Some of my projects include:

  • Marine Geophysics: Effects of spreading center migration on ocean basin structure and evolution. ( details )
  • Remote Sensing: Quantifying spatial and temporal dynamics of land surface properties via application of geophysical inverse theory to optical imagery. ( details )
  • Spatial Analysis: Multidimensional coanalysis of continental physiography, land cover, climate, and global population distribution. ( details )



List of degrees from highest to lowest:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego
University of Texas at Austin
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Honors & Awards: 
ASPRS Leica Geosystems Best Paper Award (w/ Francesca Pozzi) 2005
Palisades Geophysical Institute - Doherty Foundation Young Scientist Position 1998
UCAR Climate and Global Change Research Fellowship 1997
Outstanding Student Paper, American Geophysical Union 1993

Lamont Projects:

Referenced in the Following News Items:

Featured in the Following Videos:

Selected Publications:

Spatial Scaling of Stable Night Lights Small, C.; Elvidge, C.; Balk, D.; Montgomery, M. Remote Sensing of Environment Volume: 115 Issue: 2 p.: 269-280 (2011)
Constraints on asthenospheric flow from the depths of oceanic spreading centers: The East Pacific Rise and the Australian-Antarctic Discordance Buck, W R; Small, C; Ryan W F B Geochem Geophys Geosyst Volume: 10 p.: 101029/2009GC002373 (2009)
Spectroscopy of Sediments in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta: Spectral Effects of Moisture, Grain Size and Lithology Small, C; Steckler, M; Seeber, N; Akhter, H; Goodbred, S; Mia, B; Imam, B Remote Sensing of Environment Volume: 113 p.: 342-361 (2009)
Comparative analysis of urban reflectance and surface temperature Small, C. Remote Sensing of Environment Sep 30 Volume: 104 Issue: 2 p.: 168-189 (2006) DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2005.10.029
A global analysis of urban reflectance Small, C. International Journal of Remote Sensing Feb 20 Volume: 26 Issue: 4 p.: 661-681 (2005)
Continental physiography, climate, and the global distribution of human population Small, C.; Cohen, J. E. Current Anthropology Apr Volume: 45 Issue: 2 p.: 269-277 (2004)
The landsat ETM plus spectral mixing space Small, C. Remote Sensing of Environment Oct 30 Volume: 93 Issue: 1-2 p.: 1-17 (2004) DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2004.06.007
A global analysis of human settlement in coastal zones Small, C.; Nicholls, R. J. Journal of Coastal Research Sum Volume: 19 Issue: 3 p.: 584-599 (2003)
Plate-kinematic explanation for mid-oceanic-ridge depth discontinuities Small, C.; Danyushevsky, L. V. Geology May Volume: 31 Issue: 5 p.: 399-402 (2003)
Estimation of urban vegetation abundance by spectral mixture analysis Small, C. International Journal of Remote Sensing May 10 Volume: 22 Issue: 7 p.: 1305-1334 (2001)
Holocene volcanism and the global distribution of human population Small, C.; Naumann, T. Environmental Hazards Volume: 3 p.: 93-109 (2001)