DCO Executive Committee Meeting, March 2014

DCO’s Executive Committee met in Washington, DC to focus on DCO’s future scientific endeavors—including the steps needed to ensure reaching DCO’s decadal goals by 2019.

DCO’s Executive Committee met in Washington, DC, USA, 13-14 March 2014. Taking place close to the midpoint of the program’s 10-year remit, the meeting focused on DCO’s future scientific endeavors—including the steps needed to ensure reaching DCO’s decadal goals by 2019. The DCO’s four scientific communities evolved and matured during the DCO’s first five years, with each community making great scientific strides and sending scientists in new directions, many unanticipated at the outset of the program. Building upon the DCO’s success to date, important goals of this meeting were to identify new cross-community opportunities and synergies as well as to identify relevant questions or hypotheses that the DCO may be missing.

The meeting began with the introduction of two new Executive Committee members: 1) Terry Plank (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, USA), a recent MacArthur grant recipient whose lab uses novel Raman spectroscopy to accurately measure carbon dioxide levels in magmas; and 2) Donald Dingwell (Ludwig Maximillian University, Germany), an experimental volcanologist interested in kimberlitic magmas and diamond geology, who recently served as the Secretary General of the European Research Council.

As planned, the committee spent much of the meeting discussing the goals and challenges of each of DCO’s four scientific communities, focusing on numerous opportunities for cross-community collaboration and research frontiers. This was exemplified by, but not limited to, the recently funded Integrated Field Studies proposal. A number of DCO-relevant topics were identified for potential workshop discussion and research including the abiotic/biotic transition, bio-molecules at high temperature, the rise of carbon from deep reservoirs, carbon examined in terms of deep time, and the integration of geochemistry and geodynamics. Modelling and visualization must be key components of DCO’s future.

The committee was pleased with the recent success of the DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop, which took place in Costa Rica, 18-21 February 2014. Jon Fellowes (University of Manchester), who chaired the workshop’s organizing committee, joined the group via Skype to present workshop outcomes, including participant feedback and plans to continue DCO Early Career Scientist activities. These activities are mooted to include not only future residential workshops, but also sessions and satellite events at large international conferences.

The importance of building a DCO early career scientist network was revisited during the remainder of the meeting, ultimately emerging as a key theme. With a prescribed focus of scientific excellence and output embodying DCO’s lasting legacy, this was perhaps not surprising; indeed the network of deep carbon scientists already evolving under the DCO banner is likely to be one of the program’s largest and most valuable legacies. The committee agreed that promoting higher attendance of early career scientists at all DCO events should be a priority.

In conclusion, Craig Manning (UCLA) summarized meeting discussion with 5 key ways to promote crossing scientific community boundaries during the DCO’s remaining years: 1) holding multi-community DCO workshops, 2) DCO students/postdocs crossing disciplinary boundaries with their research, 3) DCO cross-community research proposals, 4) DCO cross-community field studies, and 5) DCO cross-community modelling and visualization efforts. 

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