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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Columbia University
  • Sean M Higgins
  • (845) 365-8528
  • David S Goldberg
  • Paul W Ljunggren
Award Date:07/10/2008
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 10,780,326
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 32,426,716
  • FY 2011=$7,715,484
  • FY 2009=$10,244,327
  • FY 2010=$7,986,579
  • FY 2008=$6,480,326
Start Date:06/01/2008
End Date:02/29/2012
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Ship Operations Award 2008 - R/V Marcus Langseth
Federal Award ID Number:0813737
DUNS ID:049179401
Parent DUNS ID:049179401
Program Officer:
  • Rose Dufour
  • (703) 292-8811

Awardee Location

Street:2960 Broadway
County:New York
Awardee Cong. District:10

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Columbia University Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
Street:Rt 9W
Cong. District:17

Abstract at Time of Award

The R/V MARCUS G. LANGSETH is a ship that was purchased as a used vessel from WesternGeco in 2004 by LDEO of Columbia University. The ship was converted for use as a 2D- 3D multichannel seismic ship for use by the academic research community. Conversion was completed in 2007 and successful sea trials were conducted in late 2007 and early 2008. Title to the ship was turned over to NSF in late 2007. Data from the 2D cruises is impressive, with increased resolution of structures undergoing studies. The unique capability of the ship with the multi-streamer, multichannel seismic system, and linear well-tuned sound source arrays permits deep imaging of the earth?s structure so that marine geophysicists are able to develop a better understanding of ongoing processes that can profoundly affect society, such as earthquakes, and tsunamis resulting from undersea earthquakes. The vessel can carry up to 55 personnel, including 20 crew members, geophysical technicians, and a complement of scientists. Although the ship was also converted for general oceanographic research, at this time, no such cruises are scheduled for the ship. The ship is a global asset for marine geosciences and works in all parts of the world. Intellectual Merit: The Langseth provides direct field support to NSF funded science programs, the intellectual merit of these programs being determined by scientific programs within the National Science Foundation. The ship is able to deploy multiple hydrophone arrays and linear sound source arrays that improve the quality and reliability of data acquisition. Broader Impacts: This project will support NSF funded geophysical research programs by providing a new level of data resolution and acquisition in studying the movement of tectonic plates. Cooperative programs involving other countries and foreign scientists are developing, and already have developed, since this is the only Academic Research Vessel in the United States capable of gathering this type of data. Consequently we continue the development of students specializing in this field, and extend their learning experience through the international community. This is a two-year cooperative agreement. The duration of the Cooperative Agreement is being changed to bring the program into cycle with other ship proposals that were peer and panel reviewed in 2005. For each year of the cooperative agreement, funding is dependent upon the number of days at sea in support of NSF research, and budgets are renegotiated.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Program Outcome Report

R/V Marcus G. Langseth Ship Operations


L-DEO Office of Marine Operations

Columbia University


The R/V Marcus G. Langseth (Langseth) is a National Facility operated by Columbia University on behalf of the National Science Foundation.  The Office of Marine Operations located at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory manages the Langseth facility. The Langseth is ~240 feet long and is considered a global class vessel capable of operating around the world.  The vessel provides a unique seismic imaging capability as well as general purpose oceanographic capabilities to the academic fleet and the marine science community.  The Langseth is a relatively recent addition to the fleet and began its science operations at the beginning of 2008.


Seismic imaging is the ability to look at structures below the seafloor of the ocean by using sound waves produced by a sound source towed behind the vessel.   The vessel’s long towed array of hydrophones listen for the sound waves that bounce back from these sub-seafloor structures and two or three-dimensional maps can be compiled that can significantly enhance our understanding of the earth and processes that otherwise would be difficult if not impossible to study.


As of 2011, the Langseth completed its 4th year of full-time operations.  To date, all of the science projects conducted on the Langseth have focused primarily on use of the seismic imaging system capabilities of the vessel. Approximately 840 science days were successfully carried out during these these 4 years.  Significant science accomplishments over the last 4 years include:  the first two academic three-dimensional imaging projects, one on the East Pacific Rise, where new ocean crust is created, and the second on the Costa Rica margin where tectonic plates are interacting; an extensive two-dimensional imaging survey in the Arctic Ocean; a complex 4-cruise program in cooperation with Taiwan; two successful Extended Continental Shelf mapping cruises in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as other seismic, oceanographic and tomographic experiments.


The vessel carries other important complimentary science systems including extensive sea floor mapping capability and high-resolution sub-bottom profiling, ocean current profilers, a towed magnetometer, and gravimeter. Together, these systems are a powerful combination of tools available to for the marine geology community.  A key objective for the Langseth is to provide such capabilities to a new generation of marine geoscientists.

Last Modified: 03/01/2012
Modified by: Sean M Higgins

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