Deep Energy

Dedicated to developing a fundamental understanding of environments and processes that regulate the volume and rates of production of abiogenic hydrocarbons and other organic species in the crust and mantle through geological time.

      Decadal Goals

  • Utilize field-based investigations of approximately 25 globally representative terrestrial and marine environments to determine processes controlling the origin, form, quantities and movements of abiotic gases and organic species in Earth’s crust and uppermost mantle.
  • Implement the use of DCO-sponsored instrumentation, especially revolutionary isotopologue measurements, to discriminate the abiotic versus biotic origin of methane gas and organic species sampled from global terrestrial and marine field sites.
  • Quantify as a function of temperature, pressure, fluid and solid compositions, and redox state the mechanisms and rates of fluid-rock interactions that produce H2, abiotic forms of hydrocarbon gases and more complex organic compounds
  • Integrate our quantitative understanding of the processes that control the origins, forms, quantities and movements of abiotic vs biotic carbon compounds with the 4-D DCEM.
image description

Guiding Questions

How are organic molecules such as methane formed in deep Earth?


Are these organic molecules formed independently from life (abiotically)?


What characteristics of deep Earth control the movements of organic molecules?


Did mineral-mediated chemical reactions play a role in life’s origins?


How do organic molecules influence the global carbon cycle?

 

Image credits. Methane: Grand Prismatic Spring by Jim Peaco, National Park Service; Serpentinization: Carbonated peridotite by Katie Pratt; Hydrogen: A groundwater sampling tube descends into the Outokumpu Deep Drill Hole by Riikka Kietäväinen

Scientific Steering Committee

  • Dr. Magali Ader
    Magali Ader Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France
    close
    Dr. Magali Ader
    Magali Ader
    Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France

    Pr. Magali Ader is a professor at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and serves on the Engagement Advisory Committee for DCO’s Deep Energy community. Her research sits at the intersection of Earth and life sciences, in the burgeoning field of geobiology. Using measurements of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions of ancient sedimentary rocks, compared to those of analogous modern geobiological systems, she is contributing to our understanding of how Earth and life interacted through time on both a local and a global scale. Ader also serves as the international secretary of the Geochemical Society.

  • Dr. Chris Ballentine
    Chris Ballentine University of Oxford, UK
    close
    Dr. Chris Ballentine
    Chris Ballentine
    University of Oxford, UK

    Dr. Chris Ballentine is chair of the Geochemistry Department at the University of Oxford. He has spent his scientific career developing and applying the noble gas isotope tool to different Earth systems. His research interests encompass understanding how the Earth gained its gaseous inventory and the processes controlling terrestrial reservoir interaction and evolution over time. Ballentine has been involved in organizing and building the governance and structure of the European Goldschmidt conferences since 2007; chairing Davos 2009, serving as the Goldschmidt officer for Prague 2011, and as co-convenor of Florence 2013.  He also has served as president of the European Association of Geochemistry in 2013-2014. 

  • Dr. Peter Clift
    Peter Clift Louisiana State University, USA
    close
    Dr. Peter Clift
    Peter Clift
    Louisiana State University, USA

    Dr. Peter Clift shares his knowledge of the marine geology of Asia with students from around the world. He is the Charles T. McCord Professor of petroleum geology at Louisiana State University, the Hongguo Fellowship Professor at Nanjing Normal University, a research affiliate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China. His principal research interests focus on Asia and range from the geological aspects of the petroleum systems of South and Eastern Asia, to climatic and anthropogenic impacts on the environment in monsoonal Asia, to solid Earth-climate interactions. He also actively conducts research on active margins and the origin of the continental crust, with particular interest in mass balancing the carbon and solid rock flux through the global subduction system. 

  • David Cole
    David Cole The Ohio State University, USA
    close
    David Cole
    David Cole
    The Ohio State University, USA

    Dr. David Cole is a professor and Ohio Research Scholar in the School of Earth Sciences at The Ohio State University. A geochemist, his research interests span a number of sub-disciplines in the geosciences and chemistry, and include both low temperature and high temperature studies relevant to energy systems. He is the OSU Interim Director of the Subsurface Energy Resource Center, Director of the OSU Subsurface Energy Materials Characterization and Analysis Laboratory. Cole serves on DCO's Synthesis Group 2019 and served previously as chair of the Deep Energy Community.

  • Isabelle Daniel
    Isabelle Daniel Université Claude Bernard Lyon, France
    close
    Isabelle Daniel
    Isabelle Daniel
    Université Claude Bernard Lyon, France

    Prof. Isabelle Daniel’s research interests focus on geobiology and minerals/rocks under extreme conditions. In her work, she employs advanced in situ experimental and analytical methods such as Raman spectroscopy and synchrotron X-ray diffraction. She investigates serpentinization and serpentine minerals, fluid-rock interactions at high pressure and microorganisms under extreme conditions. Daniel is a faculty member in Earth Sciences at the Université Claude Bernard Lyon1 in France, where she is also affiliated with the Laboratoire de Geologie de Lyon and chairs the Observatoire de Lyon. Because of the depth and breadth of her research, Daniel serves as chair of the Scientific Steering Committee for the Deep Energy Community and as a member of the Scientific Steering Committee for the Deep Life Community. She is also active in the DCO’s Extreme Physics and Chemistry Community.

  • Dr. Nils Holm
    Nils Holm Stockholm University, Sweden
    close
    Dr. Nils Holm
    Nils Holm
    Stockholm University, Sweden

    Dr. Nils Holm is Professor Emeritus of marine geochemistry of the Stockholm University. Holm is interested in organic compounds in marine hydrothermal environments and their importance for the carbon cycle and the formation of early life on Earth and other terrestrial plants. He also works on questions related to the deep subsurface biosphere and its potential existence in an astrobiological context.

  • Dr. Long Li
    Long Li University of Alberta, Canada
    close
    Dr. Long Li
    Long Li
    University of Alberta, Canada

    Dr. Long Li is an assistant professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Alberta. Li is a stable isotope geochemist working on carbon and nitrogen cycles at a variety of spatial and temporal scales, with particular interest in carbon and nitrogen behaviors during fluid-rock interaction, subduction-zone metamorphism, and volcanism from modern to deep time on Earth.

  • Dr. Tullis Onstott
    Tullis Onstott Princeton University, USA
    close
    Dr. Tullis Onstott
    Tullis Onstott
    Princeton University, USA

    Dr. Tullis Onstott is a professor of geosciences at Princeton University. For 23 years, he has focused his research on subsurface microbial life. His research involves exploration of subsurface microbial ecosystems via mines, drilling, and new underground laboratories, and quantifying their community structure, function, and activity. His group analyzes metagenomes, metatranscriptomes and metaproteomes, performs stable isotope measurements, and combines geochemical measurements with thermodynamic models. In 2007,Time Magazine named Onstott one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The U.S. Department of Energy also recognized his excellent research with awards on three occasions.

  • Dr. Magali Pujol
    Magali Pujol TOTAL, France
    close
    Dr. Magali Pujol
    Magali Pujol
    TOTAL, France

    Dr. Magali Pujol is a reservoir engineer with TOTAL at the Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine.  A geochemist, Pujol's research encompasses isotope geochemistry, including stable isotope analysis, geochronology, and noble gases. 

  • Dr. Igor Tolstikhin
    Igor Tolstikhin Kola Science Center of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
    close
    Dr. Igor Tolstikhin
    Igor Tolstikhin
    Kola Science Center of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

    Dr. Igor Tolstikhin has spent his career answering the question “How does nature work?” using isotopic compositions of the elements in natural materials. His current research activity includes noble gas mass-spectrometry, isotope cosmo-geochemistry, isotope hydrology, and modeling of the Earth’s chemical evolution. Tolstikhin is affiliated with Institutes of Russian Academy of Science, the Geological Institute of Kola Science Center, Apatity, and the Space Research Institute, Moscow. In 2013 the European Association of Geochemistry recognized Tolstikhin’s many contributions to deciphering how nature works with the presentation of its Urey Award.

  • Dr. David White
    David White Schlumberger, UK
    close
    Dr. David White
    David White
    Schlumberger, UK

    Dr. David White is a senior technology advisor for Schlumberger. A geophysicist, White’s role at Schlumberger involves research strategy, external collaboration through to the out-licensing of Intellectual Property, technology scouting, early-stage investment, and technology development. White began his career at Schlumberger as a research scientist. Prior to his current position, he was president of Schlumberger Water & Carbon Services, where was responsible for the strategic development of two new start-up businesses involving water resource management and the geological storage of carbon dioxide for climate change mitigation.

  • Dr. Edward Young
    Edward Young University of California, Los Angeles, USA
    close
    Dr. Edward Young
    Edward Young
    University of California, Los Angeles, USA

    Dr. Edward Young is a professor of geology at UCLA and co-Chair of the Deep Energy Community. His research spans geochemistry and cosmochemistry. He envisioned and oversaw the development of the Panorama High-Resolution Mass Spectrometer, which is capable of unprecedented measurements of isotopic bonder ordering in methane gas, making it possible to accurately define the origin and provenance of various sources of methane. He also is principal investigator on a study that is advancing understanding of the extent to which isotopologues can differentiate between biotic and abiotic carbon compounds. The Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry formally recognized Young’s contributions to geochemistry by naming him fellow. He also is a fellow of the Meteoritical Society.

Back to top