News Archive

posted 10/31/03

Presentations by Columbia University Scientists at the 115th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America: November 2 to 5, 2003, Seattle, Washington

Landsat imaging like this enables scientists to identify land formations that might be favorable to their research. Image Credit: Images by Barbara Summey, NASA GSFC Visualization Analysis Lab, based on Landsat 5 data provided by the Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics

DID A BOLIDE IMPACT CAUSE CATASTROPHIC TSUNAMIS IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND?, Dallas H. Abbot, Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

In 1500 A.D. the archeological record shows the abandonment of coastal New Zealand. Abbott’s research indicates that this was likely due to an extraterrestrial impact, the crater for which—approximately 20 km wide and 153 km deep—she has located on the New Zealand continental shelf.

CORAL EVIDENCE FOR ABRUPT CHANGES IN OCEAN-ATMOSPHERE DYNAMICS IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC SINCE 1565 AD, Erica Hendy, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Hendy presents palaeoenvironmental records from eight massive coral colonies from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, spanning 120 to 420 years of continuous growth (1565 to 1985 AD). Her research shows that the ‘Little Ice Age’ (1450–1870 AD) was a period of stronger temperature gradients between the tropics and extratropics than observed during the 20th century, intensifying global atmospheric circulation.

THE RELATIVE ROLES OF GREENHOUSE GASES AND OCEAN HEAT TRANSPORTS IN MIDDLE PLIOCENE WARMING, Mark A. Chandler, Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University, Goddard Institute for Space Studies

The middle Pliocene was likely the last time the Earth experienced global temperatures that are comparable to the conditions we expect to face in the coming century. Chandler’s ongoing modeling studies examine links between increased carbon dioxide and ocean circulation that may have forced warmer climates in the Middle Pliocene. Studies such as this will enable a better understanding of how current changes in carbon dioxide levels and ocean circulation may affect future temperature changes.

TESTING THE EFFICACY OF CLIMATE FORECAST MAPS AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATING WITH POICY MAKERS, Toru Ishikawa, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Ishikawa presents research examining whether climate forecast maps, constructed by The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction for people in charge of environmental management and decision making, are interpreted as intended. The results include information on (a) how well people understand such forecast maps; (b) how people would use the forecasts in agricultural decision making; and (c) how one could improve the design of maps and/or train students' map understanding ability.

EVIDENCE FOR A BLACK SEA FLOODING EVENT, William B.F. Ryan, Doherty Senior Scholar, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Ryan presents a controversial hypothesis on a Black Sea flood event in the time of Noah. His data suggests that a rising global ocean spilled over the Bosporus barrier causing a saltwater flood that rapidly transformed an isolated and shrunken lake into an expanded sea.

REFLECTION SIGNATURE OF SEISMIC AND ASEIMIC SLIP ON THE NORTHERN CASCADIA SUBDUCTION THRUST, Mladen R. Nedimovic, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Nedimovic presents an important new application of seismic reflection data—mapping great earthquake rupture areas. Great earthquakes occur where two tectonic plates meet and interface one another, and are the source of the most powerful and devastating earthquake occurrences on Earth.

WHAT CONTROLS ORGANIC MATTER PRESERVATION IN LAKES, Paul E. Olsen, Storke Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The faster a carbon particle is buried in a region where the diffusion of elements such as oxygen or sulfate is low, the higher the probability of preservation on geological timescales of millions of years. Olsen presents geological examples showing that organic matter preservation in lakes tends to be favored by humid rather than arid climates.

UNSTABLE STADIALS: EVIDENCE FROM THE YOUNGER DRYAS, Gerard Bond, Doherty Senior Scholar, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

On short timescales of decades, warmer climates are found to be more stable than colder climates, regardless of whether climate boundary conditions are glacial or interglacial.

THE FIRST HALF MILLION YEARS OF THE JURASSIC AS SEEN IN THE STRATIGRAPHY AND PALEOCOLOGY OF THE NEWARK SUPERGROUP OF EASTERN NORTH AMERICA, Paul E. Olsen, Storke Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Olsen presents an interpretation of the early Jurassic era’s paleo-ecology, found in layers of Earth, showing a post-catastrophe environment, possible during a super-greenhouse time.

EDGCM: REAL-TIME GLOBAL CLIMATE MODELING RESEARCH FOR THE CLASSROOM, Mark A. Chandler, Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University, Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Scientists conducting climate research use global climate computer models that require supercomputers to run. Chandler presents on the development of a global climate model that runs on a desktop computer, enabling teachers and students to have access to an important tool to teach and learn basic knowledge of the Earth’s climate system, which impacts everything from the environment to the economy.

EARTHCHEM.ORG: INTEGRATING DATA MANAGEMENT FOR IGNEOUS GEOCHEMISTRY, Kerstin Lehnert, Coordinator, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Lehnert presents on the development of an Internet database for igneous rock geochemistry. Combining the comprehensive data compilations of GEOROC, NAVDAT and PedDB, three independent efforts to provide accessibility to igneous rock geochemistry, researchers will have access to important data needed to shape and improve our understanding of Earth characteristics, processes, and evolution.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world’s leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.