Geophysics

The Geophysics faculty are concerned with the broad range of physical processes affecting the solid Earth, from the core, mantle, and crust to the cryosphere, and carry out related studies of Mercury, Mars, and Earth's moon. We focus on understanding plate-tectonic processes in marine and terrestrial settings, determining the structure of the Earth's interior, and understanding earthquake and volcano dynamics. We study mechanisms for ice, magma, and sediment transport and for the exchange of mass between the solid Earth and its fluid envelope, and we work to understand interactions of large-scale surface deformation with the oceans and atmosphere. We are also concerned with the quantitative study of natural hazards and associated risks, hydrocarbon exploration and extraction, and explosion and earthquake monitoring for the verification of nuclear test-ban treaties. Our research draws on a variety of approaches, including seismology; geodesy; remote sensing; volcanology; physical glaciology; rock mechanics; and geophysical fluid dynamics. We emphasize the integration of data-analysis and modeling approaches, and many faculty maintain active field programs and engage in the development of geophysical instrumentation. The Geophysics faculty contribute expertise to inform decision-making at the local, national and international levels.

Geophysics Courses
 

 

             

 

                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 

Timothy Creyts
Personal Information
Timothy
Creyts
Lamont Assistant Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Contact Information
208B Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8368

Fax: 

(845) 365-8156
Einat Lev
Personal Information
Einat
Lev
Lamont Assistant Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Seismology Geology and Tectonophysics
Contact Information
108L Seismology
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8616

Fax: 

(845) 365-8150

Fields of interest: 

Physical volcanology, lava flow, numerical modeling, analog experiments, natural hazards, volcanic eruptions, magma, fluid mechanics, UAVs, photogrammetry, aerial photography, planetary volcanism
Education
PhD
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6/2009
BSc
Tel-Aviv University
7/2000
Selected Publications:
Shallow and deep controls on lava lake surface motion at K\={\i}lauea Volcano, Patrick, Matt ; Orr, Tim ; Swanson, Don ; Lev, Einat Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research (2016) 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.11.010
Gas pistoning and episodic outgassing in the lava lake at Halema'uma'u Crater, Kilauea Volcano, during 2010–2014, Patrick, Matt ; Orr, Tim ; Sutton, Jeff ; Lev, Einat ; Thelen, Wes; Fee, David Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume: 433 (2015) 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.10.052
Diverting lava flows in the laboratory, Dietterich, Hannah ; Cashman, Kathy ; Rust, Alison ; Lev, Einat Nature Geoscience, Volume: 8 (2015) 10.1038/ngeo2470
The Influence of Cross-sectional Channel Geometry on Rheology and Flux Estimates for Active Lava Flows, Lev, Einat ; James; Michael Bulletin of Volcanology, Volume: 76 (2014) 10.1007/s00445-014-0829-3
Experimental Insights on Natural Lava-Ice/Snow Interactions, Edwards, B. ; Karson, J. ; Wysocki, R. ; Lev, E. Geology, Volume: 41 p.: 851-854 (2013) 10.1130/G34305.1
Investigating lava flow rheology using video analysis and numerical flow models, Lev, E. ; Spiegelman, M. ; Karson, J. ; Wysocki, R. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Volume: 247-248 p.: 62-73 (2012) 0.1016/j.jvolgeores.2012.08.002
Colin P. Stark
Personal Information
Colin
P.
Stark
Lamont Associate Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Contact Information
305A Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8742

Fax: 

(845) 365-8156

Fields of interest: 

Geomorphology, tectonics, sedimentology, hydrology, tropical meteorology

If I had to summarize my research interests in one succinct phrase, it would be "the physics of geomorphology".  I'm fascinated by the processes that drive the evolution of landscapes on Earth, not to mention on other planets and moons. 

Over the past twenty years or so we've seen a renaissance in the field of geomorphology as a wealth of digital data has become available, particularly with advent of ubiquitous satellite remote sensing and digital elevation model mapping, along with burgeoning computational capabilities.  There has been explosion of activity in surface process research just as public concern over the environment has come to the fore in the political arena.  Never before has the study of the "skin of the earth" been so dynamic or so relevant to society.

My main research foci are landslides and mountain rivers, and I blend field observations, data analysis (GIS/RS) and theoretical efforts to the task of understanding them better.   I've focused over recent years on Taiwan and Japan as field areas, in part because of the intimate link between river erosion and landsliding that underpins their mountain landscape dynamics, and in part because the rate at which these landscapes evolve is so high and the year-on-year changes are so marked.

I'm currently working on four projects:

  • looking for climatic fingerprints in the morphology of bedrock rivers, especially incised meander channels, by establishing linkages with typhoon rainfall, floods and rock strength - the broader aim is to deepen our quantitative understanding of bedrock river erosion and morphodynamics (NSF-EAR funding; collaboration with several colleagues in Taiwan, Japan and the UK)
  • researching ways to better express the multi-scale heterogeneity of geomorphic processes in the equations we use to model them - in particular, we are developing methods of fractional calculus to encapsulate better properties of non-locality, scaling, and broad-tailed probability distributions that are so common in natural environments (NSF-EAR/CMG/HYD funding; collaboration with a hydrologist, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, U. Minn. SAFL/NCED, and a mathematician/statistician, Mark Meerschaert, U. Michigan)
  • tackling landslide processes on several fronts, both from a stochastic perspective (magnitude-frequency distributions of landslide areas and volumes of mobilized debris) and a continuum-mechanical perspective (supercomputing simulation of elastoplastic failure using CIG code SNAC)  (recent NASA/NSF funding; collaborations with Fausto Guzzetti, CNR-IRPI Perugia, and Eunseo Choi, LDEO)
  • participating in a large multi-disciplinary project on the geodynamics of the Calabrian Arc ("Calarco"), where my focus is on reconstructing the late Quaternary history of coastal landscape evolution of the Calabrian peninsula using, for example, IRSL (OSL) dating of Gilbert fan deltas and marine terraces (NSF-CD funding; collaboration with many colleagues, in particular Thomas Dewez, BRGM, Sebastien Huot, UQAM, and Nano Seeber, LDEO)
Education
PhD
University of Leeds
1992
MA
University of Cambridge
1988
Robin E. Bell
Personal Information
Robin
E.
Bell
Palisades Geophysical Institute/Lamont Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Contact Information
107A Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8827

Fax: 

(845) 365-8156

Fields of interest: 

Ice Sheet Dynamics and Mass Balance, Continental Dynamics, Estuarine Processes, Linkages between ice sheet processes and subglacial geology. Interaction of ecosystems and geologic systems from microbes to benthic habitats. Tectonic uplift and feedback mechanisms, Interaction of tectonics and ice sheet dynamics. Gravity and magnetic measurement techniques for marine and airborne applications. Gravity gradiometry.
  • Study of Subglacial Environments ( details )
  • Process Based Studies of Estuaries & Rivers; The Hudson River ( details )
  • Women in Science ( details )
Education
M.S., M. Phil, Ph.D.,
Columbia University, New York
1989
B.A. (magna cum laude), Geology,
Middlebury College, Vermont
1980
Selected Publications:
Process-related classification of acoustic data from the Hudson River Estuary, Nitsche, F. O.; Bell, R.; Carbotte, S. M.; Ryan, W. B. F.; Flood, R. Marine Geology Aug 30, Volume: 209, Issue: 1-4 p.: 131-145 (2004) DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2004.05.023
Estimating the depth and shape of subglacial Lake Vostok's water cavity from aerogravity data, Studinger, M.; Bell, R. E.; Tikku, A. A. Geophysical Research Letters Jun 19, Volume: 31, Issue: 12 p.: - (2004) Doi 10.1029/2004gl019801
Righting the Balance: Gender Diversity in the Geosciences, Bell, R. E.; Kastens,KA; Cane,MA; Miller, RB; Mutter, JC; Pfirman,S EOS Transactions, Volume: 84, Issue: 31 p.: 292 (2003)
Origin and fate of Lake Vostok water frozen to the base of the East Antarctic ice sheet, Bell, R. E.; Studinger, M.; Tikku, A. A.; Clarke, G. K. C.; Gutner, M. M.; Meertens, C. Nature Mar 21, Volume: 416, Issue: 6878 p.: 307-310 (2002)
Influence of subglacial geology on the onset of a West Antarctic ice stream from aerogeophysical observations, Bell, R. E.; Blankenship, D. D.; Finn, C. A.; Morse, D. L.; Scambos, T. A.; Brozena, J. M.; Hodge, S. M. Nature Jul 2, Volume: 394, Issue: 6688 p.: 58-62 (1998)
Donna Shillington
Personal Information
Donna
Shillington
Lamont Associate Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Lecturer
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Contact Information
303C Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8818

Fax: 

(845) 365-8156

Fields of interest: 

Rifted margins, subduction zones, wide-angle reflection/refraction seismology, multi-channel seismic reflection data
Education
Ph.D. (geophysics)
University of Wyoming
2004
BS (geology)
University of Georgia
1998
ABJ (journalism)
University of Georgia
1998
Selected Publications:
Constraints on the composition of the Aleutian arc lower crust from VP/VS, Shillington, D.J., Van Avendonk, H.J.A.; Behn, M.D., Kelemen, P.B.; Jagoutz, O. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume: 40 p.: 2579–2584 (2013) 10.1002/grl.50375
Evidence for wide-spread creep on the Sea of Marmara transform basin from marine geophysical data, Shillington, D.J., Seeber, L., Sorlien, C.C., Steckler, M.S., Kurt, H., Dondurur, D., Çifci, G., Imren, C., Cormier, M.-H., McHugh, C.M.G, Gurcay, S., Poyraz, D., Okay, S., Athin, O., Diebold, J.B. Geology, Volume: 40 p.: 439-442 (2012)
Abrupt transition from magma-starved to magma rich rifting in the eastern Black Sea, Shillington, D.J.; Scott, C.L.; Minshull, T.A.; Edwards, R.A.; Brown, P.J.; White, N.J. Geology, Volume: 37, Issue: 1 p.: 7-10 (2009) 10.1130/G25302A.1
Wide-angle seismic data reveal extensive overpressures in the Eastern Black Sea Basin, Scott, C. L.; Shillington, D. J.; Minshull, T. A.; Edwards, R. A.; Brown, P. J.; White, N. J. Geophysical Journal International Aug, Volume: 178, Issue: 2 p.: 1145-1163 (2009) DOI 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04215.x
Extension of continental crust at the margin of the eastern Grand Banks, Newfoundland, Van Avendonk, H. J. A.; Lavier, L. L.; Shillington, D. J.; Manatschal, G. Tectonophysics Apr 1, Volume: 468, Issue: 1-4 p.: 131-148 (2009) DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2008.05.030
Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Black Sea: A test of depth-dependent stretching models, Shillington, D. J.; White, N.; Minshull, T. A.; Edwards, G. R. H.; Jones, S. A.; Edwards, R. A.; Scott, C. L. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Jan 30, Volume: 265, Issue: 3-4 p.: 360-378 (2008) DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2007.10.033
Seismic signal penetration beneath post-rift sills on the Newfoundland rifted margin, Shillington, D.J.; Hopper, J.R.; Holbrook, W.S. Geophysics, Volume: 73, Issue: 5 p.: B99-B107 (2008) doi:10.1190/1.2972131
Peter B. Kelemen
Personal Information
Peter
B.
Kelemen
Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Geochemistry
Chair
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Contact Information
211 Comer
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
(845) 365-8728

Fax: 

(845) 365-8155
Recently, I have added mineral carbonation and hydration in peridotite and mafic rocks to my research program. This is a reactive transport problem, very similar to the work I've done on reactive transport of melt in the upper mantle and lower crust, there are fantastic field areas where active, ongoing mineral carbonation and hydration can be observed, and the physical mechanisms that control key processes are not well understood. We are focusing on understanding processes in natural systems, particularly “reaction driven cracking”, with relevance to engineered geological capture and storage of CO2, stimulation of geothermal reservoirs, in situ mining, and extraction of hydrocarbon resources from tight formations.
 
For decades, my primary research interest has been in the genesis and evolution of the Earth's crust in the ocean basins, in arcs, and in continents. I approach this topic from the perspective that reactions between melt and rock during transport through the upper mantle are as important as melting, mixing, and crystal fractionation processes in producing different crustal bulk compositions in different tectonic settings. I’ve been fascinated by the stark compositional difference between oceanic and continental crust, and in my research I have gravitated toward end-member examples of magmatic processes: oceanic spreading ridges, and subduction-related volcanic arcs such as the Aleutians where the composition of average lavas and exposed plutonic rocks closely resembles continental crust.  In an ongoing effort, I've tried to develop a general theory that explains how reactive melt transport varies along different geothermal gradients, with, 1. mineral dissolution and focusing of flow into high permeability channels in hot, upwelling mantle, 2. diffuse flow where there is a low melt flux into conductively cooled, shallow mantle, and, 3. hydrofracture where high melt flux and crystallization due to cooling clog porosity, leading to ponding of magma and increasing melt pressure. I’ve also become very interested in gravitational instabilities that can remove dense lithologies from the base of the crust, and transport buoyant subducted sediments and felsic igneous rocks from subduction zones back into the crust, and I hope to pursue investigations of metasediments in lower crustal granulite terrains: how do they get down there?
 
In studying layered intrusions and lower oceanic crust, I’ve tried to understand a few of the many possible mechanisms for forming both compositional and modal layering in gabbros, via injection of layer parallel sills, and via sudden changes in pressure that can modify the assemblage of minerals precipitating from a cooling magma. This research led to general ideas about formation of oceanic crust, via a “sheeted sills” mechanism in which the lower crust crystallizes from many small sills, injected at depths throughout the crust. This end-member process stands in contrast to the “gabbro glacier” hypothesis, in which all oceanic plutonic rocks crystallize in a single, shallow melt lens and undergo ductile flow downward and outward to “fill” the lower crust. A related issue is the mode of cooling of the oceanic lower crust; via conduction with limited, diffuse fluid flow, or via rapid, focused hydrothermal convection. Trying to quantify and constrain these hypotheses, and to determine which processes predominate in different tectonic settings, has motivated a lot of research over the past 15 years.
I've been very fortunate to work with a large number of tolerant geophysicists (Jack Whitehead, Einat Aharonov, Steve Holbrook, Marc Spiegelman, Greg Hirth, Jun Korenaga, Matthew Jull, and others) who have led me into the world of geodynamics. I am grateful to them all, particularly Greg Hirth, with whom I have been able to pursue interdisciplinary studies.
 
Finally, not that long ago, I was a founding partner of Dihedral Exploration, mineral exploration consultants specializing in field work requiring technical climbing skills. Searching for ore deposits took me to British Columbia, Alaska and Greenland. I've recently started teaching a new course, Earth Resources for Sustainable Development, which covers some of that field, as well as energy resources, water, soil and fertilizer. I’ve been writing general articles and giving public presentations on this topic
 
 
Education
Ph.D.
University of Washington
Master of Science
University of Washington
Bachelor of Arts
Dartmouth
Selected Publications:
The case for reactive crystallization at mid-ocean ridges, Collier, M. L.; Kelemen, P. B. Journal of Petrology (Submitted)
Reaction-driven cracking during retrograde metamorphism: Olivine hydration and carbonation, Kelemen, P.B. and G. Hirth Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume: 345–348 p.: p. 81 (2012)
Coexisting serpentine and quartz from carbonate-bearing serpentinized peridotite in the Samail Ophiolite, Oman, Streit, E.; Kelemen, P.B.; Eiler, J. Mineralogy and Petrology, Volume: 164 (2012)
Differentiation of the continental crust by relamination, Hacker, B. R.; Kelemen, P. B.; Behn, M. D. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 06/02/2011, Volume: 307 p.: 15 (2011)
Rates and Mechanisms of Mineral Carbonation in Peridotite: Natural Processes and Recipes for Enhanced, in situ CO2 Capture and Storage, Kelemen, P.B.; Matter, J.; Streit, E.E.; Rudge, J.F.; Curry, W.B.; Blusztajn, J. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume: 39 p.: 93 (2011)
Diapirs as the source of the sediment signature in arc lavas, Behn, M.D.; Kelemen, P.B.; Hirth, G.; Hacker, B.R.; Massonne, H. Nature Geoscience, Volume: 4 (2011)
Rates and mechanisms of peridotite carbonation: preliminary data from Oman, recipes for enhanced, in situ CO2 capture & storage, and avenues for continued research, Kelemen, P B; Streit, L; Matter, J; Rudge, J; Curry, W; Blusztajn, J Annual Reviews of Earth & Planetary Science (2010)
Investigation of the strength contrast at the Moho: A case study from the Oman Ophiolite, Homburg, J.; Hirth, G.; Kelemen, P.B Geology, Volume: 38 (2010)
Microstructural and rheological evolution of a mantle shear zone, Skemer, P.; Warren, J.; Kelemen, P.B.; Hirth, G. Journal of Petrology, Volume: 51 (2010)
Trapped melt in the Josephine peridotite: Implications for permeability and melt extraction in the upper mantle, Sundberg, M,; Hirth, G.; Kelemen, P.B. Journal of Petrology, Volume: 51 (2010)
A felsic end to Bushveld differentiation, VanTongeren, J.; Mathez, E.; Kelemen, P.B. Journal of Petrology, Volume: 51 (2010)
Christopher Small
Personal Information
Christopher
Small
Lamont Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Adjunct Professor
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Contact Information
304B Oceanography
61 Route 9W - PO Box 1000
Palisades
NY
10964-8000
US
347-535-4274

Fax: 

(845) 365-8156

Fields of interest: 

Geophysics; Land Surface Processes, Remote Sensing; Population and Environment.

Prior to 1992, the surfaces of Venus and Mars had been mapped in greater detail than the surface of Earth. Recent advances in remote sensing now provide us with detailed maps of seafloor structure and synoptic views of Earth's land surface. Remotely sensed observations also allow us to quantify the spatial and temporal dynamics of the Earth system. Quantifying these dynamics is the first step toward understanding them. Geophysics provides powerful tools and concepts that can be used to quantify and understand the dynamics of the Earth system. My research interests focus on the application of geophysics, remote sensing and spatio-temporal analysis to the study of the Earth system. Remotely sensed observations provide a necessary synoptic complement to field measurements. Similarly, field validation is necessary to calibrate remotely sensed measurements. Field validation also provides justification for travel.

Since coming to Columbia in 1993, My interest in the Earth system has expanded to include its biospheric components. Recognition that the tools and concepts of geophysics can be applied to a wider range of questions has resulted in a number of cross-disciplinary collaborations ranging from tropical deforestation monitoring to urban growth mapping. My current research interests center on the use of satellite remote sensing to quantify changes in Earth's surface and the causes and consequences of these changes. These interests have recently taken me to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, the North Fiji Basin, the Ethiopian highlands,  the Galapagos Archipelago, the Gobi Desert, the Belize River Basin and the Peruvian Andes.

Some of my projects include:

  • Marine Geophysics: Effects of spreading center migration on ocean basin structure and evolution. ( details )
  • Remote Sensing: Quantifying spatial and temporal dynamics of land surface properties via application of geophysical inverse theory to optical imagery. ( details )
  • Spatial Analysis: Multidimensional coanalysis of continental physiography, land cover, climate, and global population distribution. ( details)
Education
Ph.D
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego
1993
M.A.
University of Texas at Austin
1989
B.S.
University of Wisconsin - Madison
1985
Selected Publications:
Spatial Scaling of Stable Night Lights, Small, C.; Elvidge, C.; Balk, D.; Montgomery, M. Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume: 115, Issue: 2 p.: 269-280 (2011)
Constraints on asthenospheric flow from the depths of oceanic spreading centers: The East Pacific Rise and the Australian-Antarctic Discordance, Buck, W R; Small, C; Ryan W F B Geochem Geophys Geosyst, Volume: 10 p.: 101029/2009GC002373 (2009)
Spectroscopy of Sediments in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta: Spectral Effects of Moisture, Grain Size and Lithology, Small, C; Steckler, M; Seeber, N; Akhter, H; Goodbred, S; Mia, B; Imam, B Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume: 113 p.: 342-361 (2009)
Comparative analysis of urban reflectance and surface temperature, Small, C. Remote Sensing of Environment Sep 30, Volume: 104, Issue: 2 p.: 168-189 (2006) DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2005.10.029
A global analysis of urban reflectance, Small, C. International Journal of Remote Sensing Feb 20, Volume: 26, Issue: 4 p.: 661-681 (2005)
Continental physiography, climate, and the global distribution of human population, Small, C.; Cohen, J. E. Current Anthropology Apr, Volume: 45, Issue: 2 p.: 269-277 (2004)
The landsat ETM plus spectral mixing space, Small, C. Remote Sensing of Environment Oct 30, Volume: 93, Issue: 1-2 p.: 1-17 (2004) DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2004.06.007
A global analysis of human settlement in coastal zones, Small, C.; Nicholls, R. J. Journal of Coastal Research Sum, Volume: 19, Issue: 3 p.: 584-599 (2003)
Plate-kinematic explanation for mid-oceanic-ridge depth discontinuities, Small, C.; Danyushevsky, L. V. Geology May, Volume: 31, Issue: 5 p.: 399-402 (2003)
Estimation of urban vegetation abundance by spectral mixture analysis, Small, C. International Journal of Remote Sensing May 10, Volume: 22, Issue: 7 p.: 1305-1334 (2001)
Holocene volcanism and the global distribution of human population, Small, C.; Naumann, T. Environmental Hazards, Volume: 3 p.: 93-109 (2001)