Welcome to the Deep Carbon Observatory

A global community of more than 1000 scientists on a ten-year quest to understand the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon inside Earth.

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These archaea, Altiarchaeales, were originally found living in sulfidic springs in Germany. Scientists collected water samples from a 30m-deep borehole, however the cells they analyzed could be living at much greater depths. Each cell is surrounded by a fuzzy coat of “hami,” hair-like appendages with “grappling hooks” at the end and barb-wire-like prickles along their length. These surface structures help the cells stick to surfaces. Image courtesy of Christine Moissl-Eichinger (Medical University of Graz, Austria.

Read more about the unusual life forms living in deep Earth:
Life in Deep Earth Totals 15 to 23 Billion Tonnes of Carbon—Hundreds of Times More than Humans

DCO Press Release Life in Deep Earth Totals 15 to 23 Billion Tonnes of Carbon

Barely living "zombie" bacteria and other forms of life constitute an immense amount of carbon deep within Earth's subsurface—245 to 385 times greater than the carbon mass of all humans on the surface, according to scientists nearing the end of a 10-year international collaboration to reveal Earth's innermost secrets....

DCO Research Amino Acids Form in Oceanic Crust

A new study finds that when certain rocks below the seafloor interact with seawater and undergo serpentinization, they can create amino acids. These serpentinizing rocks were common in early Earth’s crust, and may have provided the chemical precursors that formed before the origin of life....

DCO Research Martian Organics Came From Natural “Batteries”

A close-up look at minerals in Martian meteorites shows that complex organic compounds formed not from life, but from electrochemical reactions similar to the ones that occur in a battery. ...

DCO Highlights 2018 DCO Emerging Leader Award Recipients Selected

DCO has selected two early career scientists as recipients of the 2018 Emerging Leader Awards....

DCO Highlights DCO at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting

We expect another large contingent of DCO researchers at the AGU Fall Meeting on 10–14 December 2018 in Washington, DC, USA....

Discover

Learn more about DCO's integrative approach, which emphasizes cross-disciplinary research activities in data science, instrumentation, field studies, and modeling and visualization, or discover deep carbon research by exploring DCO books, special issues, and journal articles.

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Extreme Physics and Chemistry Dedicated to improving our understanding of the physical and chemical behavior of carbon at extreme conditions, as found in the deep interiors of Earth and other planets.
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Reservoirs and Fluxes Dedicated to identifying deep carbon reservoirs, determining how carbon moves among these reservoirs, and assessing Earth’s total carbon budget.
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Deep Energy Dedicated to understanding the volume and rates of abiogenic hydrocarbons and other organic species in the crust and mantle through geological time.
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Deep Life Dedicated to assessing the nature and extent of the deep microbial and viral biosphere.
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