July 2019 Newsletter

From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
July 2019
Deep Carbon Observatory
In 2019, the Deep Carbon Observatory is both celebrating a decade of discovery
and launching the next decade of deep carbon science.
Find out more about deep carbon science activities for 2019 and beyond here.

Letter from the Director

In 2019, DCO is celebrating a decade of discovery and launching the next decade of deep carbon science. DCO is commemorating ten years of research by producing four books, eight special collections of scientific papers, and a decadal report, as well as a plethora of other activities and products. DCO is launching the next decade of deep carbon science by: (1) establishing a new international leadership group that will 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, France, and (3) developing a broad portfolio of research and activities that will continue into 2020 and beyond. 

DCO scientists continue to make remarkable contributions to the scientific literature. In a paper published in Nature, an international team led by DCO member Alexander Sobolev documents a deep hydrous mantle reservoir that provides evidence for crustal recycling more than 3.3 billion years ago. DCO Deep Energy Community members Garnet Lollar, Oliver Warr, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, and Magdalena Osburn report the first evidence for extant visible and cultivable microbial life in the world’s oldest waters from a depth of 2.4 km at the Kidd Creek Mine Observatory in Canada. DCO Deep Life Community members Marc Garel, Christian Tamburini, and colleagues demonstrate the biological importance of studying deep-sea microbes under in situ conditions

Deep carbon science will continue to thrive into the next decade through a growing number of programs already underway. Kai-Uwe Hinrichs is co-leader of a major initiative, The Ocean Floor – Earth’s Uncharted Interface, which has more than a dozen DCO collaborators and is receiving $56 million over seven years to investigate this critical boundary layer. The Deep Time Data-Driven Discovery initiative, which is analyzing and visualizing existing data in new ways, involves an international coalition that includes DCO members Robert Hazen, Shaunna Morrison, Peter Fox, Donato Giovannelli, Chao Liu, Dietmar Müller, and Sabin Zahirovic

Deep carbon science featured prominently at the Mineralogical Society of America Centennial Symposium and will have starring roles at other conferences in the coming months. More than 100 DCO scientists will present their research at Goldschmidt 2019 on 1-23 August 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. DCO colleagues also are developing a broad range of sessions for the 2019 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting on 9-13 December 2019 in San Francisco, USA. Finally, DCO is organizing an international conference, Deep Carbon 2019: Launching the Next Decade of Deep Carbon Science, at the US National Academy of Sciences and Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, USA on 24-26 October 2019. I hope to see many of you at these events. 

Craig Schiffries, DCO Director
Carnegie Institution for Science, Geophysical Laboratory 
Washington DC, USA

News Features

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. 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, France, and (3) developing a broad portfolio of research and activities that will continue into 2020 and beyond. Read more...

Recycling of Ocean Crust Began in Earth’s First Billion Years
Earth is the only planet known to have plate tectonics, where pieces of crust gradually move, collide, and sink back into the mantle through subduction. This crustal recycling system regulates the balance of carbon and other elements between the surface and subsurface and is a major controller of the global climate. Scientists aren’t exactly sure when subduction began, and estimates vary widely, from around 3.2 to 1 billion years ago. Now, an international team of researchers including DCO Reservoirs and Fluxes Community member Alexander Sobolev (Université Grenoble Alpes, France and Vernadsky Institute, Russia) has produced evidence that some kind of global recycling program began during Earth’s first billion years. The researchers analyzed the contents of tiny blobs of ancient melted rock, called magma, preserved within crystals that erupted 3.3 billion years ago in South Africa. The surprising amount of water in the magma, along with other lines of evidence, suggest that sinking ocean crust was already bringing surface water into the mantle before the eruption, providing the earliest evidence of subduction, or a more primitive system for crustal recycling. The team describes their findings in a new paper in Nature. Read more...

World’s Oldest Groundwater Supports Life Through Water-Rock Chemistry
The Kidd Creek Mine, located in Ontario in Canada, is a copper, silver, and zinc mine reaching three kilometers deep, and miners are still digging. This rich vein of metals formed about 2.7 billion years ago along the ocean floor, through extensive hydrothermal vent activity. Tectonic forces tipped the floor vertically, but otherwise the site has remained fairly stable, neither roasted by volcanic activity, nor further deformed. This stability, combined with unprecedented access provided by mining tunnels, make Kidd Creek Mine the ideal place to study groundwaters within a network of fractures that have been isolated from the surface for millions or even billions of years. A new paper in Geomicrobiology Journal provides the first evidence that these isolated groundwaters support a small, but persistent population of bacteria. A team of DCO Deep Energy Community members including Oliver Warr, Barbara Sherwood Lollar (both at University of Toronto, Canada), and Magdalena Osburn (Northwestern University, USA) performed careful microbiological, geochemical, and isotopic analyses of the ancient groundwater. The study establishes the context necessary for ongoing investigations into the identities and origins of microbes living at the site, and provides a roadmap for future comprehensive investigations into Earth’s deep life. Read more...

Deep-Sea Microbes Prefer High-Pressure Lifestyles
Deep, dark ocean waters represent the largest marine environment on Earth. Studying how microbes survive in these cold, high-pressure habitats is difficult, due to the cost of accessing the deep sea and the challenges associated with collecting and maintaining organisms under their native conditions. Without more affordable and advanced equipment for studying pressure-loving “namely piezophilic” microbes, major parts of the ocean will remain underexplored. In a new paper in Frontiers in Microbiology, DCO Deep Life researchers Marc Garel and Christian Tamburini (Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, MIO, France), with colleagues, discuss the advantages of sampling and maintaining deep-sea microbes under high-pressure conditions. By continuously mimicking deep-sea pressure levels, the researchers avoid giving the microbes “the bends” and obtain a more accurate picture of their identities and activity levels compared to procedures performed after the samples decompress. These results confirm previous findings and show that scientists who used sampling methodologies which allow decompression likely have underestimated the activities of deep-sea microbes and their ability to cycle carbon. Read more...

The Ocean Floor Project Explores Uncharted Territory
Earth’s ocean floor covers about 71 percent of the planet, making it a giant yet poorly explored area of exchange between the surface and subsurface. To better understand this part of the planet, researchers launched The Ocean Floor – Earth’s Uncharted Interface, a seven-year project to investigate the unique habitats the ocean floor provides, its role in carbon and nutrient cycling, and its implications for controlling the global climate. Kai-Uwe Hinrichs (MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen, Germany), a Co-chair of the DCO Deep Life Scientific Steering Committee, co-leads the project, which encompasses three units, each with a different focus on ocean-floor function. Read more...

4D Collaboration Brings New Dimensions to Earth Sciences
Researchers affiliated with the Deep-time Data Driven Discovery project (4D) are interested in recycling – but not plastic and paper. They want to reuse data from decades of research on Earth, its minerals, life forms, and history to make new discoveries using data science tools. By analyzing and visualizing existing data in new ways, 4D scientists aim to understand the interactions between life and the physical world, make predictions about Earth’s evolution, and uncover laws of planetary formation. Several DCO members are actively involved in the coalition, including DCO Executive Director Robert Hazen, Shaunna Morrison, Chao Liu (all at Carnegie Institution for Science, USA), Peter Fox (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA), Donato Giovannelli (University of Naples Federico II, Italy), Sabin Zahirovic, Dietmar Müller (University of Sydney, Australia), and others. Read more...

Scientists in the Deep Carbon Observatory Heed the Call to Improve Wikipedia
Wikipedia frequently is the first stop when looking up the answer to a trivia question, filling in a homework assignment, or finding the name of that actor that you can’t quite remember. But Wikipedia is also a major resource for educators, journalists, and even scientists to find background information or to get an overview of a new topic. Unfortunately, many scientific pages often are incomplete, out of date, or simply missing. To help improve the Wikipedia coverage of Earth science topics, DCO put out a call for volunteers to become Wikipedia Fellows, and several DCO members responded. The volunteers took courses from the non-profit organization Wiki Education through their Wiki Scholars and Scientists program. DCO members have improved 23 articles and added 13,000 words to the site since 2018. Read more...

MSA Centennial Symposium Features Deep Carbon Science
The future of deep carbon science featured prominently at the recent Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) Centennial Symposium. The symposium, convened on 20-21 June 2019 in Washington, DC, focused on the next 100 years of mineral sciences. The Deep Carbon Observatory partnered with MSA as a symposium co-sponsor to promote complementary scientific objectives. Read more...

Deep Carbon Science at the 2019 Goldschmidt Conference
A large contingent of DCO researchers will participate in Goldschmidt 2019 on 18–23 August 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. This page lists the sessions of interest to DCO attendees at the meeting. To add additional items, please contact the DCO Engagement Team. Stop by the DCO booth at Goldschmidt to get a discount on Robert Hazen's Symphony in C, get a preview of the upcoming book Deep Carbon: Past to Present, try the new DECADE volcano data portal, and pick up some unique mementos. Read more...

AGU 2019 Fall Meeting Sessions of Interest to the DCO Community
The 2019 AGU Fall Meeting will return to its home base at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA, USA, 9-13 December 2019. With almost 24000 Earth and space scientists attending last year, AGU’s Fall Meeting is the largest of its kind in the world. Visit the meeting website. Note: This listing provides examples of sessions to which DCO scientists might wish to submit abstracts. The full program is available here. To add additional sessions to this listing, please contact the DCO Engagement Team. Abstract submission deadline is 31 July 2019. Read more...

Upcoming Events

Goldschmidt 2019, Barcelona, Spain, 18-23 August 2019
Goldschmidt is the foremost annual, international conference on geochemistry and related subjects, organized by the European Association of Geochemistry and the Geochemical Society. View DCO talks and posters here, and make sure to visit the DCO booth in the exhibit hall.

YES Congress 2019, Berlin, Germany, 9-13 September 2019
The YES (Young Earth Scientists) Network is an international association of young and early career Earth scientists. The Congress focuses on climate, environmental, and geoscience challenges facing today’s society, as well as career and academic pathway challenges faced by early career geoscientists. 

2019 GSA Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, USA, 22-25 September 2019
The annual meeting of the Geological Society of America will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, and includes opportunities for local field experiences. 

Fourth Microbial Single Cell Genomics Workshop, Single Cell Genomics Center, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Boothbay Harbor, ME, USA, 22-26 September 2019
This workshop will explore microbial single cell genomics and related areas, such as bioinformatics, single cell RNA-sequencing of multicellular organisms, single cell physiology, probing, and imaging. 

Fifth International Training School on Convective and Volcanic Clouds: Detection, Monitoring, and Modeling, Nicolosi, Italy, 2-10 October 2019
The purpose of the school is to train students in techniques for the detection, monitoring, and modeling of convective and volcanic clouds, state-of-the-art instruments and satellite missions, and the type of studies needed for supporting policymakers, early warning systems, and aviation safety. Registration deadline: 10 August 2019

Deep Carbon 2019: Launching the next decade of deep carbon science, Washington, DC, USA, 24-26 October 2019
Deep Carbon 2019 will highlight DCO’s many scientific advances, representing the culmination of ten years of deep carbon research, exploration, and discovery. 

The Story Collider, Special DCO Edition, Washington, DC, USA, 24 October 2019
The Story Collider will host a very special edition of their live show for the Deep Carbon Observatory in conjunction with Deep Carbon 2019: Launching the Next Decade of Deep Carbon Science.

2019 AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, 9-13 December 2019
As the American Geophysical Union marks its centennial in 2019, the Fall Meeting returns to San Francisco, the home of the Fall Meeting for more than 40 years. View DCO sessions of interest here. Abstract submission deadline: 31 July 2019

Honors and Awards

Craig Schiffries, DCO Director
Carnegie Institution for Science, USA
GSA Public Service Award

Kelly Wrighton, Deep Life
Colorado State University, USA
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Funding Opportunities

Deep Life Cultivation Internship Program
DCO's Deep Life Community (DLC) realizes that the majority of deep microbial life has been resistant to cultivation in the laboratory, which complicates the characterization of physiological characteristics of deep community members. However, recent studies using bioreactor-cultivation techniques, under high pressure and/or temperature, have resulted in successful enrichment of previously uncultivable archaeal and bacterial components that mediate biogeochemical carbon cycling in the deep subsurface. To maintain and strengthen cultivation strategies in future deep life missions, the DLC will support early career researchers to visit some key laboratories (Inagaki - Kochi, Japan, Bartlett - La Jolla, USA, and others) to learn and practice newly developed cultivation and cultivation-dependent molecular/biogeochemical techniques, using samples from the DLC’s field missions.

C-DEBI: Rolling Call for Research Exchange Proposals
The Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) facilitates scientific coordination and collaborations by supporting student, postdoctoral, and faculty exchanges to build, educate, and train the deep subseafloor biosphere community. We award small research exchange grants for Center participants. These grants may be used to support research, travel for presenting C-DEBI research at meetings, or travel exchanges to other partner institutions or institutions that have new tools and techniques that can be applied to C-DEBI research. We anticipate ~10 awards of $500-5,000 with additional matched funds to be granted annually. 

New Publications

View more papers in the DCO publications browser.

Deep hydrous mantle reservoir provides evidence for crustal recycling before 3.3 billion years ago
Alexander V. Sobolev, Evgeny V. Asafov, Andrey A. Gurenko, Nicholas T. Arndt, Valentina G. Batanova, Maxim V. Portnyagin, Dieter Garbe-Schönberg, Allan H. Wilson, and Gary R. Byerly 
Nature doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1399-5

‘Follow the water’: Hydrogeochemical constraints on microbial investigations 2.4 km below surface at the Kidd Creek Deep Fluid and Deep Life Observatory
Garnet S. Lollar, Oliver Warr, Jon Telling, Magdalena R. Osburn, and Barbara Sherwood Lollar
Geomicrobiology Journal doi:10.1080/01490451.2019.1641770

Pressure-retaining sampler and high-pressure systems to study deep-sea microbes under in situ conditions
Marc Garel, Patricia Bonin, Séverine Martini, Sophie Guasco, Marie Roumagnac, Nagib Bhairy, Fabrice Armougom, and Christian Tamburini
Frontiers in Microbiology doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.00453

Employment Opportunities

View more employment opportunities on the DCO website.

Department Head & Professor of Geophysics - Colorado School of Mines, USA
The Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines invites applications for a tenured, full professor to head the Department. Applicants must have a Ph.D. in Geophysics or a related field, and a proven track record in research and service. Application deadline: 1 August 2019

Postdoctoral Research Scientist Marine Geodesy & Seismology - Columbia University, USA
The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University invites applications for a Postdoctoral Research Scientist position in marine geodesy and seismology, and associated instrumentation. Application deadline: 15 August 2019

Faculty Positions in Earth History - The Pennsylvania State University, USA
We seek creative colleagues working to understand the coupling and feedbacks between Earth-surface processes, deep-Earth processes, ocean dynamics, and/or climate. We are especially interested in applicants who integrate modeling, laboratory, and/or field techniques and whose research and teaching would complement existing departmental strengths in geobiology, geochemistry, and geophysics. Application deadline: 15 August 2019

Postdoctoral Researcher - University of Minnesota, USA
The Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities seeks applicants for a post-doctoral position involving experimental and theoretical studies of mineral-fluid reactions in hydrological and hydrothermal systems. Application deadline: 30 August 2019

Principal Investigator, Earth-Life Science Institute, Japan
The Earth-Life Science Institute, a permanent research institute based at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, is seeking a pioneering, enthusiastic, collaborative, and open-minded scientist to establish a research program in origin of life studies as a tenured faculty member of the university (Associate or Full Professor level). Application deadline: 30 August 2019

Assistant or Associate Professor in Solid Earth Geophysics - University of Texas Austin, USA
The Department of Geological Sciences in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin seeks to hire a faculty member in the field of solid Earth geophysics at the Assistant (tenure-track) or Associate Professor (tenured) level. We are looking for an outstanding scientist who will establish an innovative, externally funded research program and will be committed to both teaching and mentoring at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Application deadline: 1 September 2019

Instrument Maker - Carnegie Institution for Science, USA
Carnegie Institution for Science, a prestigious 100+ year old non-profit scientific research institution located in Washington, DC, is seeking a talented and experienced individual to fill the post of Instrument Maker. A minimum 5 years of experience as instrument maker/machinist is required. Application deadline: 1 September 2019

Director of Diversity Programs in Geosciences - The Pennsylvania State University, USA
We seek a colleague who will build on existing departmental programs, mentor students, and lead, develop, and innovate a suite of sustainable research and teaching initiatives that promote and support a diverse body of students, staff, and faculty members committed to inclusivity and equity. Application deadline: 1 September 2019

DCO in the News

29 July 2019 In his element
Laboratory News
We spoke to astrobiologist Robert Hazen whose new book, Symphony in C, draws parallels between carbon and music to help explain why the element is so essential to understanding cosmic evolution...

23 July 2019 Carbon: the wonder and mystery of the sixth element
Radio New Zealand
Carbon's ubiquitous presence in fossil fuels can sometimes give it a bad rap - but it is also the element of life, of energy, of climate, and of the environment...

5 July 2019 Extending knowledge of life on Earth and helping us find it elsewhere
By Andrew Moore for Advanced Science News
The Earth’s crust is anything but a composite of inorganic mineral deposits...

2 July 2019 Geological Society of America award winners for 2019
The Geological Society of America (GSA) recognizes outstanding scientific achievement and distinguished service to the profession each year at its Annual Meeting & Exposition, to be held this year 22-25 September, in Phoenix, Arizona, USA...

2 July 2019 A geologist offers a melodic meditation on one of Earth’s most abundant elements
By Nicola Pohl for Science Magazine
Although organic chemistry is often described as the science of carbon, Robert Hazen’s latest book, Symphony in C, makes clear that this vital element cannot be contained by such a disciplinary boundary...

Learn more about DCO's Scientific Communities


Extreme Physics and Chemistry
The Extreme Physics and Chemistry Community is dedicated to improving our understanding of the physical and chemical behavior of carbon at extreme conditions, as found in the deep interiors of Earth and other planets.

Reservoirs and Fluxes
The Reservoirs and Fluxes Community is dedicated to identifying the principal deep carbon reservoirs, to determining the mechanisms and rates by which carbon moves among these reservoirs, and to assessing the total carbon budget of Earth.

Deep Energy
The Deep Energy Community is dedicated to developing a fundamental understanding of environments and processes that regulate the volume and rates of production of abiogenic hydrocarbons and other organic species in the crust and mantle through geological time.

Deep Life
The Deep Life Community is dedicated to assessing the nature and extent of the deep microbial and viral biosphere by exploring the evolutionary and functional diversity of Earth's deep biosphere and its interaction with the carbon cycle.

Thanks for reading! Send us items for future newsletters by emailing Katie Pratt of the DCO Engagement Team. 

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