Extreme Physics and Chemistry (EPC) has received another two years of DCO funding beginning November 1st 2013. The award from the Sloan Foundation is intended to promote deep carbon science through seeding scientific networks, improving instrumentation and infrastructure, and engagement of both the scientific community at large and the general public. The proposal, headed up by EPC chair Craig Manning (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) and Giulia Galli (University of California, Davis, USA), outlines how the community will continue to investigate the physical and chemical behavior of carbon at extreme conditions, as found in the deep interiors of Earth and other planets, and thus contribute to meeting the decadal goals of the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).
The EPC Community will build on existing work in the field to strengthen current understanding of carbon-bearing solids and fluids, as well as expanding their effort to investigate carbon in magmas. These investigations will also provide insights into the complex transformations that occur among different forms of carbon in the high temperature and pressure conditions of Earth’s lower crust, mantle, and core.
Physical experiments will complement theoretical calculations and computer modeling, exploiting the vast and varied expertise of the EPC community. Experimental studies will combine a wide array of techniques, including large volume high-pressure presses, diamond cells, and X-ray, neutron, and other spectroscopic methods. EPC scientists have also been heavily involved in the development and installation of a large computer cluster, housed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA, which will soon be available for novel, large-scale, in silico modeling experiments.
One of the central goals of DCO is to answer the question of how much carbon planet Earth holds. In order to do this, fundamental advances are needed in our understanding of how the chemical and physical properties of carbon, and the molecules with which interacts, are impacted by the high pressures and temperatures of deep Earth. Work from the EPC Community, therefore, has far reaching implications, impacting research across the entire gamut of deep carbon, and deep planetary, science.
Image adapted from Merlini et al, 2012. The crystal structure of CaCO3-VI at 30 GPa. This atomic structure corresponds to the crystal form of the mineral calcite at depths corresponding to about 1000 km. Green spheres are calcium atoms; yellow are carbon atoms; red are oxygen atoms. Sizes not to scale. DCO EPC researchers will continue investigating the novel forms of such carbon-bearing minerals at deep-Earth conditions.