DCO Celebrates a Decade of Discovery and Launches the Next Decade of Deep Carbon Science

In 2019, the Deep Carbon Observatory is both celebrating a decade of discovery and launching the next decade of deep carbon science.

In 2019, the Deep Carbon Observatory is both celebrating a decade of discovery and launching the next decade of deep carbon science. To commemorate its tenth year, DCO is publishing four books, eight special collections of scientific papers, and a decadal report, as well as a plethora of other activities and products. To launch the next decade of deep carbon science, DCO is: (1) establishing a new international leadership group to succeed the DCO Executive Committee; (2) moving headquarters functions from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, USA to the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), France, and (3) developing a broad portfolio of research and activities that will continue into 2020 and beyond. 

DCO established Synthesis Group 2019 (SG2019) to fully capture DCO’s achievements by synthesizing and integrating research across DCO’s four science communities to realize a new understanding of deep carbon science. Led by Marie Edmonds (University of Cambridge, UK), the synthesis process aims to elevate the collaborative efforts of the global research initiative. Synthesis products and activities include crosscutting research projects – such as Biology Meets Subduction and Carbon Mineral Evolution – as well as workshops, meetings, visualizations, a decadal report, books (see below), and special issues of journals (see below). DCO’s synthesis efforts will culminate with an international conference, Deep Carbon 2019: Launching the Next Decade of Deep Carbon Science. To share findings with broader scientific communities, DCO scientists also will present more than 100 papers at the 2019 Goldschmidt Conference in Barcelona, Spain and the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, USA. 

DCO was established in 2009 with a pledge of ten years of core support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; since then, the program has grown into an international, interdisciplinary community of more than 1200 scientists studying carbon in Earth. Over the past decade, the cumulative efforts of DCO scientists have leveraged the Sloan Foundation’s generous investment of $50 million with more than $500 million of additional support from numerous organizations worldwide.

Although the Sloan Foundation’s support for DCO will come to a close at the end of 2019, as planned since the program’s inception, DCO will continue. To prepare for this transition, DCO created Task Force 2020 (TF2020) to sustain and build upon the momentum and impact of DCO by identifying structures and organizations that would ensure the continuity of DCO legacies. Chaired by Claude Jaupart (IPGP, France), TF2020 convened international workshops and conducted a survey of the entire DCO science network to obtain broad input regarding the future of the program. 

The DCO Executive Committee has appointed a new leadership group as its successor to lead DCO in 2020 and beyond. This new group (see roster below) will coordinate the DCO network and promote interdisciplinary and international scientific collaboration on deep carbon science. A small headquarters office at IPGP will provide light administrative support to the new leadership. Building on the model of the DCO Secretariat, the headquarters office will catalyze international and interdisciplinary coordination and collaboration, facilitate program development and leveraging, and promote internal and external communications.

To help launch the next decade of deep carbon science, DCO scientists also are developing a broad portfolio of activities that will extend beyond the culmination of the initial decadal program. A series of biennial Gordon Research Conferences and Seminars on Deep Carbon Science will provide key opportunities for researchers to connect and collaborate in person, building upon the legacies of DCO international science meetings and early career scientist events. DCO scientists also have received more than $100 million in grants supporting deep carbon science beyond the end of the initial decadal program. 

With these many changes on the horizon, DCO’s second decade will unquestionably be different from its first; but whatever the future brings, DCO’s community of extraordinary scientists guarantees that deep carbon science will continue to thrive.

DCO Books Published in 2019

Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything explores carbon’s multi-faceted characteristics in four movements – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Authored by Robert M. Hazen. W.W. Norton & Company, June 2019.

Carbon in Planetary Interiors is a special AGU Monograph providing a compilation of what has been learned by DCO’s Extreme Physics and Chemistry community over the last decade. Edited by Craig Manning, Wendy Mao, and Jung-Fu Lin. American Geophysical Union, October 2019.

Deep Carbon: Past to Present is an edited volume that conveys what our international community of deep carbon scientists has learned over the last decade. Edited by Beth N. Orcutt, Isabelle Daniel, and Rajdeep Dasgupta. Cambridge University Press, October 2019.

A History of Deep Carbon Science from Crust to Core offers the first historical account of deep carbon science from the 1400s to the present. Authored by Simon Mitton. Cambridge University Press, December 2019.

DCO Special Issues of Journal Published in 2019

Earth in Five Reactions: A Deep Carbon Perspective is a special issue of American Mineralogist that explores the most important carbon-related reactions in Earth. Edited by Jie (Jackie) Li, Simon Redfern, and Donato Giovannelli. Articles online beginning May 2019.

Catastrophic Perturbations to Earth's Carbon Cycle is a special issue of Elements. Edited by Marie Edmonds, Celina Suarez, and Adrian Jones. October 2019.

Deep Matter and Energy is a special issue of Engineering that highlights the role of deep volatiles in mediating major Earth processes and spans a broad range of deep carbon science.  Edited by Ho-Kwang Mao Chengwei Sun. June 2019.

Research Topic on Deep Carbon is a special collection in Frontiers that shares new insights in deep carbon science from across the DCO Science Network. Edited by Isabelle Daniel, Dan J. Bower, Artur Ionescu, Matia Pistone, Sabin Zahirovic, Dawn Cardace, and Sam MIkhail. Articles online beginning April 2019.

Carbon Degassing Through Volcanoes and Active Tectonic Regions is a special collection of papers in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. Edited by Tobias Fischer, Marie Edmonds, and Alessandro Aiuppa. Articles online beginning September 2017- May 2019.

Carbon Forms, Paths, and Processes in the Earth is a thematic set of papers in the Journal of the Geological Society of London. Edited by Marie Luce Frezzotti and Igor M. Villa. March 2019. 

Leadership Group to Succeed DCO Executive Committee

James Badro Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France
David Cole The Ohio State University; Center for Energy Research, Training and Innovation, USA
Isabelle Daniel Université Claude Bernard Lyon, France
Marie Edmonds University of Cambridge, UK
Kai-Uwe Hinrichs University of Bremen; MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, Germany
Karen Lloyd University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
Bénédicte Ménez Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France
Michael Walter Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, USA
Fengping Wang Shanghai Jiao Tong University; International Center for Deep Life Investigation, China
Sabin Zahirovic

University of Sydney, Australia


Main image: Participants in the 2016 DCO Summer School head to a field site near Yellowstone National Park, USA. Credit: Katie Pratt

Further Reading

DCO Highlights Symphony in C: A Carbon Symphony is Released

A recording of Symphony in C: A Carbon Symphony, composed by David Earl, performed by the Royal…

Frontiers Special Collection Engages Broader Deep Carbon Community
DCO Research Frontiers Special Collection Engages Broader Deep Carbon Community

A special collection on Deep Carbon Science in the journal Frontiers features a range of new…

Earth in Five Reactions Synthesizes Evolution of A Habitable Planet
DCO Highlights “Earth in Five Reactions” Synthesizes Evolution of A Habitable Planet

A special collection in American Mineralogist entitled "Earth in Five Reactions: A Deep Carbon…

A Deep History of Deep Carbon Science
DCO Highlights A Deep History of Deep Carbon Science

An upcoming book from science historian Simon Mitton will take readers on a tour of deep carbon…

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