Earth Institute Research Projects

Lamont Center for Biogeochemistry: Renovation of the Biology and Paleo Environment Laboratories

Lead PI: Dr. Arthur Lerner-Lam

Unit Affiliation: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

October 2010 - September 2014
North America ; New York City, NY ; New York
Project Type: Facilities & Operations

DESCRIPTION: This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

This project involves the renovation of the second floor of the "New Core Lab" at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in order to create the Lamont Center for Biogeochemistry. This will enable the institution to support collaborative activities in an increasingly inter-disciplinary field and to make it easier for researchers to share high-end analytical facilities. It will allow the use of modern biogeochemical research techniques that are difficult to use in the current facilities.

The program of work includes interior renovation, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, building controls, fire protection, casework and other smaller items. The project will replace the mechanical and electrical infrastructure that serves the second floor. This will include all new electrical distribution and piping. The plumbing systems serving the laboratories will also be replaced, but the vast majority of the work will be on the heating, ventilating and cooling side.

The renovated facility will help to satisfy the need for interdisciplinary research that bridges across the biological, atmospheric, geological, oceanographic, and hydrological sciences and that increases our understanding of the two-way coupling between biological systems and the physical and chemical characteristics of soils, sediments, air, or water. Examples of the type of research that will be done in the renovated facility includes: the reconstruction of past hydroclimate conditions using oxygen isotope measurements from trees without annual rings and the study of the Asian monsoon for the past millennium using tree-ring widths, density, and isotopic indices; the use of uranium series geochemistry to reconstruct deep-sea particle fluxes and past changes in Antarctic upwelling and productivity; estimating changes in deep-ocean carbonate chemistry during the last glacial cycle; the reconstruction of past variations in ocean circulation, sea-surface temperature gradients, and terrestrial climate using geochemical analyses of foraminifer shells in deep-sea sediments; the timing and abruptness of ice sheet instability events; the reconstruction of past changes in ocean acidity and hence atmospheric carbon dioxide levels using boron isotopes in planktonic foraminifera and coral; the response of planktonic ecosystems to physical forcing resulting from global climate change; the microbial assemblage in deep-sea sediments, the pattern of active and pathogenic microbes in the Hudson River estuary, and the microbes associated with soil carbon sequestration. The proposed renovations will also provide facilities that will be used to provide research experiences for undergraduates and high-school students.