Earth Sciences

Aboard research cruises, the teams work around the clock, using every precious second of sea time. Scientists launched Sentry in the evening and monitored its progress through the night. Photo: Bridgit Boulahanis

Life Aboard a Research Cruise: 24-Hour Days, Amazing Discoveries

When scientists say “research cruise,” they aren’t talking about sunny afternoons of shuffleboard and margaritas on deck. Life aboard a research vessel means tight spaces, few amenities, and long workdays.

by |July 30, 2016
The AUV Sentry discovered an area of seafloor where methane is bubbling up, similar to the earlier photo. The data will be used to plan the team's next dive with scientists inside a submersible. Photo: NOAA

Roving the Abyss: It Takes a Team

Bridgit’s first mission with the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry was a rousing success, including locating a patch of seafloor where methane is bubbling up.

by |July 29, 2016
Lamont's Bridgit Boulahanis, Sentry Coordinator for the research training cruise, gives a presentation to the ship's science party and telepresence group. Sentry is a UAV that the team is using to explore the sea floor. Photo courtesy of Bridgit Boulahanis

When Doing Science at Sea, Prepare to Adapt

Bridgit’s research training cruise started with a fundamental lesson of ocean science: Science at sea requires constant adaptation. Morning fog meant rewriting dive plans and reconsidering priorities.

by |July 29, 2016
Scientists can experience the sea floor up close in the human-operated vehicle Alvin. Photo: Bridgit Boulahanis

Going Deep for Science

Bridgit Boulahanis, a marine geophysics graduate student at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, prepares to head out on her first research cruise exploring the seafloor with underwater vehicles.

by |July 28, 2016
Ocean waves interact with large-scale currents in this snapshot taken from a new NASA simulation. Oceanographers eager to explore it are hampered by inadequate computing power. Image: Dimitris Menemenlis/NASA’s JPL and Chris Hill/MIT

New Group Takes On Massive Computing Needs of Big Data

The sheer number of observations now streaming from land, sea, air and space has outpaced the ability of most computers to process it. The Data Science Institute’s newest working group —Frontiers in Computing Systems—will try to address some of the bottlenecks facing scientists working with these and other massive data sets.

by |July 25, 2016
Illustrations show how (a) pressure gradient-driven flow and (b) density-driven small-scale convection could work in the asthenosphere. At the top is the surface view showing the locations of the NoMelt seismometers. The red arrows indicated the flow direction.  (Lin et al., Nature 2016)

New Study Upends a Theory of How Earth’s Mantle Flows

A new study carried out on the floor of Pacific Ocean provides the most detailed view yet of how the earth’s mantle flows beneath the ocean’s tectonic plates.

by |July 6, 2016
A side view of the June 28, 2016, Glacier Bay landslide. Photo: Paul Swanstrom/Mountain Flying Service.

Massive Landslide Detected in Glacier Bay’s Fragile Mountains

A 4,000-foot-high mountainside collapsed in Glacier Bay National Park this week in a massive landslide that spread debris for miles across the glacier below. Scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are studying it to improve understanding of landslide risks.

by |July 2, 2016
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Photo Essay: Seeking Humanity’s Roots

East Africa’s rift valley is considered by many to be the cradle of humanity. In the Turkana region of northwest Kenya, researchers Christopher Lepre and Tanzhuo Liu of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are cooperating with colleagues to study questions of human evolution, from the creation of the earliest stone tools to climate swings that have affected developing civilizations.

by |June 8, 2016
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Seeking Humanity’s Roots

Who were our earliest ancestors? How and when did they evolve into modern humans? And how do we define “human,” anyway? Scientists are exploring Kenya’s Lake Turkana basin to help answer these questions.

by |June 8, 2016
Research engineer Ted Koczynski explains how rock surfaces representing the rock bed of a glacier put pressure on a block of ice from each side as the ice is pushed downward in the new cryogenic deformation apparatus. Depending on the configuration, sensors throughout the device can measure friction, viscosity and anelasticity. Image: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Crushing Ice to Learn About Glaciers & Icy Moons

To understand how quickly ice from glaciers can raise sea level or how moons far across the solar system evolved to hold vast, ice-covered oceans, we need to be able to measure the forces at work. A new instrument designed and built at Lamont does just that.

by |June 6, 2016