Earth Sciences

Scouring Arctic for Traces of Fukushima and Cosmic Rays

Sounds like the basis for a great scifi thriller…”scientists scour Arctic, hunting for traces of nuclear fallout and ejections from cosmic ray impacts”. In reality this thriller theme is the actual core of the GEOTRACES mission.

Polar Bear takes a drink (Photo credit Tim Kenna)

Moving into the Realm of the Polar Bear

When we venture into the Arctic for research for most of us there is the lingering hope that a polar bear will appear on our watch; at least as long as we are safely outside of its reach.

by |August 24, 2015
In 1980s and 1990s, prospecting teams worked their way northward through remote terrains, including the Canadian Rockies, where this crew member was landed by helicopter.  (Courtesy Paul Derkson)

Photo Essay: The Mystery of North American Diamonds

People have been finding loose diamonds across the United States and Canada since the early 1800s, but for the most part, no one knows where they came from. It was not until the 1990s that geologists tracked down the first commercial deposits, on the remote tundra of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Yaakov Weiss, a geochemist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is investigating the origins of these rich diamond mines.

by |August 24, 2015
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Cracking Open Diamonds for Messages From the Deep Earth

“After a diamond captures something, from that moment until millions of years later in my lab, that material stays the same. We can look at diamonds as time capsules, as messengers from a place we have no other way of seeing.”

by |August 24, 2015
Crew aboard the R/V Marcus G. Langseth deploy hydrophone streamers for seismic mapping of the sea floor. Courtesy of Greg Mountain.

Mapping Land Claimed by Sea Level Rise

Understanding how coastal areas changed as the ocean rose in the past could help communities protect themselves from storm surge flooding in the future as the oceans warm and sea levels rise.

by |August 19, 2015
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Tracing the Arctic

The land surrounding the Arctic Ocean is like a set of cradling arms, holding the ocean and the sea ice in a circular grasp. Within that cradle is a unique mix of waters, including freshwater from melting glacial ice and large rivers, and a salty mix of relatively warm Atlantic water and the cooler Pacific water.

by |August 19, 2015
D'Entrecasteaux Islands

The Downs and Ups of Mountain Building

In the islands off Papua New Guinea, the rocks are giving rise to new ideas about the ways mountain chains form. A new scientific model shows how two seemingly opposite processes can take place in the same region.

by |August 18, 2015
Back at Piermont Marsh, the students make it through the mud to a small test plot with East Harlem teacher Andrew Mittiga. Right to left: Alondra Cruz, Anjelle Martinez, Keylen Lucero, Raquel Penalo, Nick Mapp, Marc Jimenez and Shanon Dempster.

Teen Scientists Team Up with Lamont to Restore an Invaded Marsh

“My experience at Lamont has been great and it’s something like no other. Here I was basically being trained to be like a scientist with exposure to lab work, fieldwork and presentation skills.”

by |August 17, 2015
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Dennis E. Hayes, Mapper of the World’s Ocean Beds

Dennis E. Hayes, a marine geophysicist who advanced mapping of the world’s ocean floors, died at his home in New York City on Aug. 6. He was 76.

by |August 11, 2015
Arsenic in Bangladesh resides in the sediments washed down from the Himalayas by rivers like the Brahmaputra and Ganges over many thousands of years. Water pumped up for irrigation is affecting rice crops. Photo: David Funkhouser

Battling ‘the Largest Mass Poisoning in History’

As many as one in five deaths in Bangladesh may be tied to naturally occurring arsenic in the drinking water; it is the epicenter of a worldwide problem that is affecting tens of millions of people. For two decades, health specialists and earth scientists from Columbia University have been trying to understand the problem, and how to solve it.

by |July 13, 2015