Deep Energy Gathers to Dig Deep and Plan for the Future

The Deep Energy (DE) community came together at the Luskin Conference Center at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) for two days, 13-14 January 2017, to plot a way towards DCO’s culmination in 2019.

Led by Deep Energy Co-chairs Isabelle Daniel (Université de Lyon, France) and Ed Young (UCLA, USA), about 25 academic researchers, including students, came from around the world to present their recent advances on energy-related deep carbon processes and work together as a community to identify ways to address DE goals through 2019 and beyond.

Presentations highlighted DE achievements as a community and identified open questions on the formation of reduced forms of carbon and the ongoing transformation in Earth’s crust and uppermost mantle through biological and geological processes. DE researchers presented results from experimental, field, and computational studies. Notably, they addressed the question of identifying biotic versus abiotic methane and heavier hydrocarbons formed in both experimental and natural systems. The availability of unique new tools co-sponsored by the DCO project, for example UCLA’s Panorama mass spectrometer, are opening up wide perspectives and advancing what is known about methane isotopologues and other carbon-related gases. Scientists are also recording unexpected reaction paths in both experimental and natural systems with the formation of a high diversity of organic compounds. These results are pushing to the forefront the need for an enlarged view of organic synthesis mechanisms and related thermodynamic models. DE researchers have initiated global modelling of hydrogen fluxes produced by serpentinization at mid-ocean ridges that will provide a baseline model to be augmented with forthcoming results on the behavior of carbon in serpentinizing systems.

Discussions led to the identification of Deep Energy’s main priorities between now and 2019. The community agreed that it is essential to make publication and data more accessible by enriching the online database repository with field and experimental data. Data Science Team members Peter Fox and Kathy Fontaine (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA) presented updates on available tools and offered their help to DE community members in ensuring their data is accessible. The DE Community also agreed to write review papers and special issues to share what they have learned over DCO’s decadal program, as well as contributing to a wider public understanding through activities such as contributing to Wikipedia, preparing infographics, and other means to integrate new knowledge into deep carbon science.


Image: Members of the Deep Energy Community gathered at UCLA. Deep Energy co-Chair Ed Young (second from left and far right) is pictured twice, making light of the panorama function on Max Coleman's smartphone and reflecting how much time and energy went into creating this successful meeting. Coleman subsequently photoshopped himself into the photo (far left) as a complete record of the attendees. Credit: Max Coleman (JPL, NASA, USA)


Report contributed by Muriel Andreani (Lyon University, France)

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