The rock and ice mechanics lab at Lamont-Doherty is led by PIs Heather Savage, Christine McCarthy and Ben Holtzman. We are in the process of growing our lab and building our experimental program. Along with a team of postdocs, undergrads, grads, and longtime staff engineer Ted, we are rehabilitating and revamping some of the old equipment and building new rigs for exciting new experiments on both rock and ice. You can follow along with our progress here.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Possibly the cutest lab ever

"This is possibly the cutest lab ever" exclaimed one of our visitors last winter. And well, I might have to agree, what with all the babies and puppies.  Seb, our newest lab kid, made his appearance on the scene last summer and quite a few visits to the lab this winter (thanks to all those daycare germs giving him baby illnesses). Here he is color-coordinated with the best babysitter ever!

And sweet fluffy Charlie became the lab's new mascot/ferocious guard dog.
We even get cute visitors. Mike is still angry that we wouldn't let him keep the fawn.
Heck, even our snakes are freaking adorable.

So come on out to visit the lab, but just prepare yourself for the cuteness overload. You've been warned!

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Eclipse

Even though I was not prepared at all for the eclipse, my coworkers did not let me down. Lamont was a flurry of activity on the day of the big eclipse. All gathered conveniently right outside the lab.
All manner of viewing devices were fabricated by my creative co-workers.
The rock mechanics kids even joined in on the fun (though mine grew weary of all the "fun" after about 20 minutes..."mom, this eclipse is BORING").

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

First Q experiments

This little picture may not seem like much. But it's huge! This was our first ever attempt at imposing a sinusoidal load on top of a background load, at various frequencies (white curve). A new set up was used such that a stationary base was beneath sample (so that it can't slide). The resulting purple curve was the displacement of the sample. In this case we just used teflon, but it shows that all the components for controlling and measuring low amplitude cyclic loads are there. I'm very very excited about this.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Science Cheerleader is back

I haven't done much work with Science Cheerleaders lately, what with all the babies and what not. But when they got in touch about an outreach opportunity just down the road from Lamont, I couldn't resist. The Tenafly Public Library was hosting a girls STEM camp focusing on robotics. Sandra and I came out to talk about our careers (Sandra actually works with robotic physical therapy systems) and answer questions about how to pursue science. They had so many great questions. It was a blast.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Meet Armando

Armando Domingos worked on his senior thesis this year in the rock and ice mechanics lab.

In addition to helping me immensely with making ice samples for frictional testing, he also made his own "exotic ice" samples by mixing in small amounts of ammonia. Ammonia is considered a possible second phase on Enceladus and is particularly interesting because of its deep eutectic with ice.
In particular he was looking at the equilibrium microstructure of the ice+ammonia system above the solidus, so where the ammonia was in a melt phase. Based on the relative surface energies, a partial melt system will have melt located at triple junctions in the ice in either trapped convex blebs, concave pockets, or completely wetted grain faces. The measure of the wetting angle is called the "dihedral angle".

Armando made dozens of samples and measured several hundred angles and wrote it all up in his senior thesis. He is now heading off to grad school at U.C. Berkeley. Best of luck, Armando!