Past Event

LDEO Earth Science Colloquium

March 31, 2023
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964 Monell Auditorium

LDEO Earth Science Colloquium presents:

Sediment cycles record past lunar distance and length of day

with Professor Alberto Malinverno, Marine Geology and Geophysics Division of LDEO.

Abstract: Astronomical cycles have been widely recognized to drive climatic changes that are recorded by cyclic sediment deposition. The developing discipline of astrochronology uses these cycles to progressively refine the geological time scale. Astronomy, therefore, informs geology. Conversely, can the geological record provide astronomical information?

Sediment cycles record the period of the axial precession of the Earth (precession of the equinoxes), which is a function of the lunar distance and the Earth’s spin rate. Through time, tidal energy dissipation progressively slowed down the Earth’s rotation, transferring angular momentum to the Moon’s orbit and increasing lunar distance. As a result, the period of axial precession has increased markedly through geologic time, and estimating it from geological data gives key information on the history of tidal energy dissipation and of the duration of an Earth day. 


The Earth Science Colloquium Series, sponsored by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES), provides a lively forum for discussing a wide variety of topics within the Earth sciences and related fields. Colloquia are attended by the full range of scientific and technical staff at LDEO. Colloquium attendance is required of all pre-orals DEES graduate students. The Colloquium Series supports the Lamont Seminar Diversity Initiative

Contact Information

Dan Westervelt