Category: Earth Sciences

Sculpting Tropical Peaks

by | 9.30.2014 at 8:21am
With a hammer, chisel and bandanna to protect his face from shattering rock, Cunningham chipped away at a boulder left by a receding glacier. Beryllium isotopes in the rock can reveal when the ice withdrew, exposing the rock’s surface to cosmogenic rays from space. (Michael Kaplan)

Max Cunningham, a graduate student at Lamont-Doherty, traveled to Costa Rica’s Mount Chirripó this past summer to test the idea that mountain glaciers carved the summit we see today. He and his colleagues hope to eventually pin down when Chirripó’s high-elevation valleys eroded into their current form. Check out a recap of their 2014 field season.

At the Corner of Mudd Hall, the Secret of Blue Quartz

by | 9.29.2014 at 11:00am
The exterior of Seeley W. Mudd Hall is a stop on David Walkers geology tour of Columbia.

How did big crystals of blue quartz get locked into the pink granite of Mudd Hall? David Walker of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory continues his Columbia Geology Tour.

Building Blocks from the Mississippian Sea

by | 9.22.2014 at 9:00am
Ind limestone cutters at work Ind HS pic

The Columbia Geology Tour, Part 2: Take a trip back 350 million years to the shallow seas of the Mississippian that covered what is now the U.S. Midwest — source of the finely crafted limestone columns and facade details of St. Paul’s Chapel.

Photo Essay: Open House at Lamont-Doherty

by | 9.17.2014 at 12:55pm | 1 Comment
globes 960

Bend a rock. Channel your historic ‘birthquake.’ Check out rocks, fossils, sediment cores and more at Lamont’s Open House on Saturday, October 11.

What Everyone Should Know About Climate Change

by | 9.17.2014 at 11:34am
Kroeker_Kristy UC Davis

Climate scientist William D’Andrea of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory asked young scientists attending a symposium last October, “What do you wish everyone knew about climate change?” He turned the responses into this video, which covers the topic pretty well.

Is the Highest Climb Sustainable, and Who Pays the Price?

by | 9.16.2014 at 1:52pm
Khumbu Icefall, Everest, Photo: Mahatma4711

The Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest is perhaps the most well-known and notoriously dangerous glacial feature on the planet. In a fresh post on the Glacier Hub blog, the Earth Institute’s Ben Orlove, writing with anthropologist Pasang Yangjee Sherpa of Penn State, recounts a recent workshop held in Kathmandu to address the issues raised by the tragic deaths last spring of 16 Nepalese guides who were preparing the trail for this year’s climbing expeditions.

The Columbia Geology Tour: Stories in the Stones

by | 9.15.2014 at 9:00am | 1 Comment
David Walker. Photo: Kim Martineau

For the last decade or so, Columbia University geologist David Walker has led students and colleagues on a tour of the geologic gems hiding within Columbia’s campus. Along the way, Walker finds evidence of how life on Earth has evolved over 4.5 billion years.

Photo Essay: Studying Fracking’s Effects, Up Close and Personal

by | 9.2.2014 at 1:38pm
Geochemist Beizhan Yan of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is studying the environmental effects. His vest carries sensors to record air quality and noise levels as  he walks.

Ten years ago, hydraulic fracturing barely existed. Today 45,000 fracked wells produce natural gas, providing energy for millions of homes and businesses, and nearly a quarter of the nation’s electricity. But scientists are far behind in understanding how this boom affects people near wells. Geochemists Beizhan Yan and James Ross of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are trying to fill in this gap.

Erosion, Then Explosion

by | 8.29.2014 at 10:00am
Illustration: Peters & Gaines, Nature, 2012

When viewing The Great Unconformity,
The result of a vast denudation,
One feels a new sense of enormity …
And above it lie critters crustacean!

Practicum Introduces Students to Earth Institute Research

by | 8.27.2014 at 3:59pm
Traffic jams like this one in Monrovia, Liberia, are one challenge for sustainable urban development, one of the topics of the Earth Institute Practicum series this fall. Photo: UN/Christopher Herwig

Each fall, the Earth Institute Practicum offers a broad survey of the applications of frontier research to the practice of sustainable development, taught by top faculty and researchers. The practicum meets weekly on Tuesdays.