Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory seeks fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world. Its scientists study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean, providing a rational basis for the difficult choices facing humanity.
Lamont-Doherty is a core component of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, which brings together people and tools to address some of the world’s most challenging problems from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources. More than 120 Ph.D. level researchers work and teach at Lamont-Doherty; 80-90 graduate students are involved in research and a growing number of undergraduates participate in summer internships. Lamont-Doherty also operates a federally-funded research ship, the Marcus G. Langseth, which uses seismic data to map the sub-seafloor, highlighting hidden faults and other earthquake hazards.
Since its founding in 1949, Lamont-Doherty has been a leader in the earth sciences. Its scientists were the first to map the seafloor and develop a computer model that could predict an El Nino weather event, the first to provide concrete proof for the theory of plate tectonics and to reveal the oceans’ role in triggering abrupt climate change. With each year, our understanding of earth improves. Yet, new discoveries await us. It is that next insight on the horizon that keeps our researchers excited to learn more about how and why earth changes as it does.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory's Office of Marine Operations (OMO) currently operates the research vessel Marcus G. Langseth that serves as the national seismic research facility for the United States academic research community. The R/V Marcus G. Langseth's unique seismic capability allows it to provide both 2D and 3D maps of the earth's structure miles below the seafloor. Utilizing the vessel's other capabilities, expeditions have collected sediment cores for understanding climate variations throughout the Earth’s history, sampled seawater for determining physical and chemical properties of the oceans, and deployed remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for studying submarine volcanoes. Scientists and researchers from all over the world are encouraged to participate in research programs aboard the Langseth.
The R/V Langseth is a part of University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), an organization of 62 academic institutions and National Laboratories involved in oceanographic research and joined for the purpose of coordinating oceanographic ships' schedules and research facilities.
The R/V Langseth is distinct among ships in the academic fleet in that it is a designated National Facility. This status highlights the Langseth’s key role in serving a broad community by providing a unique capability to image beneath the oceans. Unlike other ships in the fleet, the Langseth science operations are reviewed by the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee (MLSOC), which consists of scientists from the community and serves as a liaison between the science community, the facility operator, and the NSF.