News Archive

posted 12/08/03

Select Presentations by Columbia University Scientists at the Annual American Geophysical Union Meeting
December 8 to 12, 2003, San Francisco, California

LONG-TERM PREDICTION OF LARGE EARTHQUAKES: WHEN DOES QUASI-PERIODIC BEHAVIOR OCCUR?
Sykes presents research showing that the prediction of large earthquakes -- on time scales of a few decades -- is possible for a number of fault segments along transform and subduction plate boundaries.
Lynn Sykes, Higgins Professor of Earth & Environmental Science, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), 845-365-8880, sykes@ldeo.columbia.edu

A FLUID-INJECTION TRIGGERED EARTHQUAKE SEQUENCE IN ASHTABULA, OH: IMPLICATIONS FOR SEISMOGENESIS AND HAZARD IN STABLE CONTINENTAL REGIONS
Injection of waste-fluid into the sandstone over the course of eight years is identified as the cause of a persistent earthquake sequence in northeast Ohio. Seeber presents research on this sequence and suggests that earthquakes triggered by human activities may have significantly raised the overall level of seismicity in stable continental regions during the last half-century.
Leonardo Seeber, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8385, nano@ldeo.columbia.edu

CO2 SEQUESTRATION IN FRACTURED DIABASE: EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS FROM FIELD AND LABORATORY STUDIES
Matter presents results on the feasibility of long-term and stable sequestration of carbon dioxide in basalt rocks, based on small-scale injection studies in New York State as well as laboratory results.
Jurg M. Matter, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8543, jmatter@ldeo.columbia.edu

MEETING THE CHALLENGES FOR GENDER DIVERSITY IN THE GEOSCIENCES
Studying issues of gender imbalance, Bell presents research on the challenges faced by women in the earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences. A systematic study of the flux of women at Columbia University enabled the development of a targeted strategy towards improving gender diversity in the geosciences.
Robin E. Bell, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8827, robinb@ldeo.columbia.edu

STUDENTS' MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE CORRESPONDENCES BETWEEN A MAP AND THE TERRAIN REPRESENTED BY THE MAP
Kastens presents on the development of a field-based test of map skills requiring students to apply information from a map to the real world and vice versa. Test results show that approximately one fifth of fourth graders produce deeply flawed answers. This study has led to the development of the Where are We? curriculum, which explicitly addresses the correspondence between a map and the represented terrain.
Kim Kastens, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, Adjunct Professor, LDEO, 845-365-8179, kastens@ldeo.columbia.edu

A NEW PHASE OF EXPLORATION AND UNDERSTANDING: PLANNING FOR THE INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR - 2007/2008
Bell reports on the planning underway by the International Council for Science to hold an International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007-2008, aimed at furthering the world's understanding of polar regions and the role they play in global systems. IPY 2007-2008 is envisioned to be an intense, international campaign of polar research with many nations working together to explore the sub-ice environment of East Antarctica, develop polar observing networks, and study the stability of the cryosphere.
Robin E. Bell, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8827, robinb@ldeo.columbia.edu

SPLITTING, STRETCHING AND SPREADING OF LITHOSPHERE
Invited Speaker for the "Birch" Lecture of the AGU Tectonophysics section, Buck highlights the impact of new observations on the processes of faulting and magmatism from the plate tectonic scale to the scale of individual faults and magma chambers. Discussed are new findings concerning the distribution of molten or frozen magma along segments of present or past divergence.
W. Roger Buck, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, Adjunct Professor, LDEO, 845-365-8592, buck@ldeo.columbia.edu

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF NEW YORK CITY'S "URBAN HEAT ISLAND:" TEMPERATURE TRENDS AND PUBLIC HEALTH IMPACTS
Rosenthal presents an examination of the relationship between the historical development of New York City and its effect on the urban climate. Manmade surfaces, such as concrete, dark roofs, asphalt lots and roads absorb most of the sunlight falling on them and reradiate that energy as heat. Researchers assessed the urban heat island effect through a historical record of average temperature differences in surrounding counties. She presents the results, the public health consequences, and a potential mitigation plan for New York City.
Joyce E. Rosenthal, Senior Staff Associate, Mailman School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences Division; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Urban Planning
Program, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, 212-305-2853 or jr438@columbia.edu

HEALTH IMPACTS OF AIR POLLUTION UNDER A CHANGING CLIMATE
Efforts to address future urban air pollution problems throughout the world will be complicated by trends and variability in climate. Kinney presents results from modeling research predicting an increase in temperature and humidity, as well as mean and extreme ozone concentrations for New York City and the 31-county metropolitan region. Preliminary analysis of future-year heat-related mortality in a typical summer of the 2050's suggests a doubling to tripling of regional summer heat deaths, as compared to the 1990's.
Patrick L. Kinney, Associate Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences, 212-305-3663, plk2@columbia.edu

WHAT ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN LANDSLIDE DISTRIBUTIONS, TOPOGRAPHIC RELIEF AND EROSION RATES?
Stark presents promising results making a simple link between hill slope failure and hill slope geometry, suggesting that in combination, high-resolution data for both may be able to tell us something about the physical parameters driving landslide erosion and landscape evolution.
Colin Stark, Doherty Associate Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8742, cstark@ldeo.columbia.edu

SUBICE GEOLOGY INLAND OF THE TRANSANTARCTIC MOUNTAINS AND UPLIFT SCENARIOS IN LIGHT OF NEW AEROGEOPHYSICAL DATA
Because of their extreme morphology, the Transantarctic Mountains have inspired a variety of ideas as to their origin. General beliefs have been in view of an uplift scenario in the rifting that formed the Antarctic's Ross Sea region. Studinger discusses the possibility that the Ross Sea region subsided during continental extension and that the Mountains may have been a region on the edge of a plateau that was already high when the plateau extended and collapsed.
Michael Studinger, Doherty Associate Resident Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8598, mstuding@ldeo.columbia.edu

CAN SEISMIC EARLY-WARNING INFORMATION HELP ENGINEERS?:   THE BENEFITS TO AND THE INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS FOR STRUCTURAL CONTROL AND MONITORING APPLICATIONS
Presented is an examination of the potential benefits of an advance warning of incoming seismic waves.   With enough warning, active and passive measures can be taken to protect structures and their inhabitants from excessive losses.   Smyth presents a combined feed-forward and feedback model that optimizes the response of "smart" buildings to local earthquakes, and presents challenges to the earthquake and ground-motion monitoring communities that provide the needed information in real time.  
Andrew Smyth, Professor of Civil Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Center for Hazards and Risk Research, smtyh@civil.columbia.edu.

SEISMIC MONITORING OF THE EAST PACIFIC RISE RIDGE: 2000 INTEGRATED STUDIES SITE
Tolstoy presents research plans to document links between seismicity and hydrothermal systems and their associated biology. Research results are expected to provide a rigorous understanding of the significance of seismic activity to the mid-ocean ridge system.
Maya Tolstoy, Doherty Associate Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8791, tolstoy@ldeo.columbia.edu

NUCLEATION OF AN OCEANIC SPREADING CENTER IN A CONTINENTAL RIFT: THE NORTHERN RED SEA
Cochran presents an analysis of the dynamics involved in the spreading center developing in the northern Red Sea, which will ultimately shear the Arabian Peninsula from Africa.
James Cochran, Doherty Senior Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8396, jrc@ldeo.columbia.edu

HIGH-FREQUENCY SEISMIC TOMOGRAPHY OF THE EPR 9-50N HYDROTHERMAL SYSTEM
A unique study on the nature of sub-surface circulation and its impacts on deep-sea hydrothermal systems and the unique biological communities they support.
Spahr Webb, Senior Research Scientist, Adjunct Professor, LDEO, 845-365-8439, scw@ldeo.columbia.edu

PROCESS RELATED INTERPRETATION OF ACOUSTIC DATA FROM THE HUDSON RIVER ESTUARY
Nitsche presents on the examination of sedimentary processes in the Hudson River through acoustic surveys. He discusses variations of acoustic backscatter data that are better explained by sedimentary processes then by differences in grain size. His research distinguishes between sediment classes based on internal volume scattering, compaction, scattering from surface roughness, scattering from aquatic plants and their roots, shelly substrates, and the presence of gas bubbles. These results provide for better interpretation of the dynamic processes of river estuaries.
Frank O. Nitsche, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, LDEO, 845-365-8746, fnitsche@ldeo.columbia.edu

USING EARTH SCIENCE INFORMATION FOR EDUCATION
Downs presents on the development of educational tools for the general public that utilize Earth science data-part of a coordinated effort to increase the use of science research in educational contexts. Showcased will be tools that he and colleagues have worked to develop, including the Earth Exploration Tool Book; the U.S. - Mexico Demographic Data Viewer, an online tool for studying demographic trends; and the Earth Update CD-Rom providing science images, video clips and interactive games.
Robert R. Downs, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), 845-365-8985, Rdowns@ciesin.columbia.edu

IMPROVING CLIMATE MODELS
The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) is at the cutting edge of global climate modeling. Perez explains how the IRI is improving global climate predictive capability by exploring how longer-term oceanic phenomena such as El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) interact with shorter-term atmospheric phenomena.
Cristina Perez, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, IRI, 845-680-4522, Cristina@iri.columbia.edu

A PROBABLISTIC BENEFIT COST ANALYSIS OF SEISMIC RETROFITTING OF APARTMENT HOUSES IN TURKEY
Presented are research results from a probabilistic cost benefit analysis of retrofitting buildings in Istanbul, Turkey, to withstand seismic activity common to the region.   Three structural retrofitting options were examined by modeling the modified building response to 400 different ground motions.   The modeling outcomes were combined with a simple economic model to show that structural retrofits provide a return on investment under certain hazard scenarios. The results have applications in supporting urgent decision-making in urban areas with high earthquake risk.
Guillermo Franco, Post Doctoral Fellow, Earth Institute, Center for Hazards and Risk Research and Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, franco@civil.columbia.edu.

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a member of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, is one of the world's leading research centers examining the planet from its core to its atmosphere, across every continent and every ocean. From global climate change to earthquakes, volcanoes, environmental hazards and beyond, Observatory scientists provide the basic knowledge of Earth systems needed to inform the future health and habitability of our planet.

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) is a center within the Earth Institute at Columbia University. CIESIN works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences, and specializes in on-line data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment.

The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) at Columbia University is a division of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Earth Sciences Directorate and a unit of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Research at GISS emphasizes a broad study of global climate change.

The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) was established as a cooperative agreement between the U.S. NOAA Office of Global Programs and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. IRI aims to improve environmental sustainability through the use of climate prediction science. From climate forecasting and modeling to fishery management, the Institute helps communities to better manage the challenges posed by climate fluctuation.

The Earth Institute
The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world's leading academic center 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.