Message from the Director - October/November 2012


The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded two grants to support comprehensive data science and engagement activities for the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO). The proposed initiatives are fundamental to DCO’s strategy and absolutely critical to its future. The DCO data science platform will facilitate collaboration, data generation, and data use. It will serve as an engine for scientific discovery across the DCO and the broader scientific community. The DCO engagement and communications initiative will spearhead contemporary and efficient strategies for sharing results with audiences within and beyond the scientific community. 

To achieve its mission, the DCO is now organized into seven primary operational units. These units include the four Science Directorates (Reservoirs and Fluxes, Deep Life, Deep Energy, and Extreme Physics and Chemistry), the DCO Secretariat, and the new Data Science and Engagement Teams. The organization will continue to evolve, but all of the envisioned units are now in place for the first time.    

The engagement and data science activities—both indispensable to highly leveraged fundraising—will be coordinated across the spectrum of DCO interests. To facilitate integration, representatives of each of the DCO Science Directorates have been appointed as Engagement Liaisons and Data Science Advisory Committee members. Sara Hickox and Peter Fox, the principal investigators of the engagement and data science proposals, respectively, have been appointed to the DCO Executive Committee.  

Diamonds play a unique role in research on Earth’s mantle and its deep carbon cycle. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded a grant to launch a new genre of research on diamonds under the auspices of the DCO. The goal of the project, Diamonds and the Mantle Geodynamics of Carbon, is to create an international research consortium that will become a new international infrastructure for diamond research. Led by Steven Shirey of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the effort involves 20 project leaders and partners from 11 countries, including preeminent diamond researchers. The Sloan Foundation also awarded a separate grant to create a community data infrastructure for diamond samples and the data generated by their study. The principal investigator is Kerstin Lehnert of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. 

The Deep Carbon Observatory sponsored a Pardee Keynote Symposium on “Understanding Earth through Carbon” at the 2012 Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting on 7 November 2012. The keynote symposium featured talks by authors of 12 chapters in Carbon in Earth, a forthcoming volume of Reviews in Mineralogy and Petrology that is edited by DCO Executive Committee members Robert Hazen, Adrian Jones and John Baross. This remarkable series of presentations contained exciting new material as well as innovative synthesis. The program and abstracts are available online. The keynote symposium was followed by a DCO Town Hall Meeting that generated creative ideas and offers of collaboration.  

Terry Plank, a member of the DCO Science Advisory Committee, has been named a 2012 MacArthur Fellow. Plank, a professor of geochemistry at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, uses the volcanoes as windows to study the chemical and physical forces deep below the surface.

Future DCO Events

DCO is convening and co-sponsoring a series of upcoming workshops and meetings, including:

  • American Geophysical Union Meeting, DCO Scientific Sessions, 3-7 December 2012, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • DCO Deep Life Scientific Steering Committee Meeting, 2 December 2012, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • DCO Reservoirs and Fluxes Scientific Steering Committee Meeting, 5 December 2012, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • DCO Workshop on Non-Volcanic Fluxes of Deep Carbon Workshop, 6 December 2012, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • DCO International Science Meeting, 3-5 March 2013, Washington, DC, USA
  • Kazan Workshop, 13-17 April 2013 (tentative), Kazan, Russia

The Deep Carbon Observatory welcomes the opportunity to co-sponsor sessions at other scientific conferences.  Please contact me to discuss future opportunities. 

Craig M. Schiffries

Tel: (202) 478-8819

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