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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

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Title: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory  
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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) is a research unit of Columbia University located on a 157-acre (0.64 km2) campus in Palisades, N.Y., 18 miles (29 km) north of Manhattan on the Hudson River.

Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory
Non-profit research institute
Founded 1949
Headquarters Palisades, New York
Key people Sean C. Solomon, Director[1]


The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) was established in 1949 as the Lamont Geological Observatory on the weekend estate of Thomas W. and Florence Haskell Corliss Lamont, which was donated to the university for that purpose.[2] The Observatory’s founder and first director was Maurice "Doc" Ewing, a seismologist who is credited with advancing efforts to study the solid earth, particularly in areas related to using sound waves to image rock and sediments beneath the ocean floor.[3] He was also the first to collect sediment core samples from the bottom of the ocean,[4] a common practice today that helps scientists study changes in the planet's climate and the ocean's thermohaline circulation.

In 1969, the Observatory was renamed Lamont–Doherty in honor of a major gift from the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation; in 1993, it was renamed the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory in recognition of its expertise in the broad range of earth sciences. Today, it is a major research component of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, a collection of academic and research units within the university that together address complex environmental issues facing the planet and its inhabitants, with particular focus on advancing scientific research to support sustainable development and the needs of the world's poor.[5]

To support its research and the work of the broader scientific community, Lamont–Doherty operates the 235-foot (72 m) research vessel, the R/V Marcus Langseth, which is equipped to undertake a wide range of geological, seismological, oceanographic and biological studies. Lamont–Doherty also houses the world's largest collection of deep-sea and ocean-sediment cores as well as many specialized research laboratories.

Mission statement

The Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, a member of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is one of the world’s leading research centers seeking fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world. More than 300 research scientists and students study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean. From global climate change to earthquakes, volcanoes, nonrenewable resources, environmental hazards and beyond, Observatory scientists provide a rational basis for the difficult choices facing humankind in the planet’s stewardship.

Major achievements

Of the contributions that Lamont–Doherty scientists have made to understanding of the earth system over the years, several stand out:

Major divisions

Biology and paleo environment

The growth rings of trees.


Researchers in the mantle and core.

Marine geology and geophysics

As its name implies, scientists in the seafloor spreading, which led to the general acceptance of plate tectonics as the broad foundation for understanding earthquake generation. Other MG&G scientists study the interface between ice sheets and bedrock, sediment transport in the Hudson River, and meteorite impacts in the deep ocean.

Ocean and climate physics

The Division of Ocean and Climate Physics (OCP) focuses on the links between earth’s climate system and its oceans, including interactions involving the atmosphere, ocean circulation, planetary volcanism, the cryosphere, the biosphere and external forces such as variability of solar radiation and even the occasional asteroid impact. Scientists are also increasingly interested in understanding the nature of past and present changes to earth’s climate—whether abrupt or gradual, regional or global—and the potential for human activities to influence the natural system.

Division of seismology, geology and geophysics

The researchers in the National Science Foundation (NSF) efforts to conduct ocean-bottom seismology research, and provides accurate earthquake source mechanisms to government and academic researchers around the world.

Office of Marine Operations and R/V Marcus G. Langseth

The history of Lamont–Doherty's seagoing research began in 1953 with the acquisition of the , and conducts its own research on the character and operation of various geophysical imaging systems employed by the scientific community.

Department of Earth and Environmental Science

The geochemistry. Specific programs at Lamont–Doherty are conducted with many education-affiliates at Columbia and elsewhere in the New York metro area.

Major facilities and initiatives

Deep-sea sample repository

The Lamont–Doherty Deep-Sea Sample Repository is both an archive of sediment and rocks from on and beneath the ocean floor—more than 19,000, from every ocean and sea—and an archive of digital data pertaining to the material. Both are used to research earth's climate and environment, as well as for many other studies, and for educational purposes.

Tree ring lab

The Tree-Ring Lab (TRL) is dedicated to the application of tree-ring research around the world to improve understanding of earth's past climate and environmental history. Current research concentrates on the use of tree-ring data networks to study regional climate, global climate teleconnections and anthropogenic impacts on tree growth.

Ocean bottom seismology lab

The National Ocean Bottom Seismograph Instrumentation Pool (OBSIP). These instruments permit the study of such phenomena as seafloor spreading and the formation of new crust, convective and hydrothermal processes beneath the seafloor, and the fate of subducting slabs.

Borehole research group

The JOIDES Resolution.

Lamont Cooperative Seismographic Network

The Lamont–Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network (LCSN) operates 40 seismographic stations in seven states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont—to monitor earthquakes occurring primarily in the eastern U.S. The network also provides professional development and improved awareness among station operators, many of whom are not professional seismologists.

Databases and repositories

Lamont–Doherty is home to a wide range of geophysical databases and repositories that aid in scientific research, education and outreach. Many of the databases are available online, and the repositories of physical samples, which are open to access by researchers and students from around the world, also make an increasing portion of their holdings available digitally.

See also

  • Allan Bé, micropaleontologist who worked at the lab


External links

  • Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory Website
  • The Earth Institute at Columbia University Website

Coordinates: 41°00′14″N 73°54′25″W / 41.004°N 73.907°W / 41.004; -73.907

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