May 2018 Newsletter

From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
May 2018
Deep Carbon Observatory

Paddlewheelite (green) is one of two new minerals discovered as part of the Carbon Mineral Challenge. Paddlewheelite was named for its unusual construction. Atomically, it is comprised of four “paddlewheels” made of three radioactive uranyl clusters, held together by copper axles, much like the paddle of an old-fashioned steamboat. Image credit: Travis Olds. Read more...

Letter from the Director

DCO scientists continued producing exciting scientific results this month, including a possible solution to Earth’s missing xenon paradox. DCO members Alexander Goncharov, Hanyu Liu, Sergey Lobanov, (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA) and colleagues experimentally demonstrated that xenon, a noble gas, combines with iron and nickel at pressures and temperatures representative of Earth’s core.
A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by DCO Deep Life Community members Fengping Wang (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China), Mark Lever (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), and Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, (University of Bremen, Germany) sheds new light into the cycling of one of Earths most abundant biopolymers in anoxic marine sediment, with lignin as an energy source and bicarbonate as a carbon source.
DCO’s Deep Earth CArbon DEgassing (DECADE) initiative convened a workshop in Washington DC earlier this month, and calculated new estimates of global carbon dioxide degassing from volcanic sources. 
DCO’s Carbon Mineral Challenge reported the discovery of two new carbon minerals, ramazzoite and paddlewheelite. Ramazzoite is the first polyoxometallate mineral, which is a mineral that contains a cluster of metal atoms bound together by oxygen. Ramazzoite also is surprising because it contains an unusually large number of negatively charged ions, including phosphate, carbonate, hydroxide, and sulfate.
In coming months, DCO will continue to have an active presence at international scientific meetings. In June, we look forward to seeing many DCO scientists at the inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Deep Carbon Science. This biennial conference series could become a sustainable successor to DCO international science meetings and foster international research on deep volatiles for many years in the future.
A large contingent of DCO scientists will participate in the 2018 Goldschmidt Conference in Boston, USA from 12–17 August, many of whom are convening sessions and giving session keynote presentations. DCO scientists will deliver two of the five plenary lectures. Fumio Inagaki (JAMSTEC, Japan) will give a plenary lecture on “Exploring Deep Microbial Life In The Planetary Interior: What Are The Limits of Habitability?” Bernard Marty (CRPG, France), president of the European Association for Geochemistry, will give a plenary lecture on “Origin and Early Evolution of Terrestrial Volatiles.” DCO Deep Energy community member Shuhei Ono (MIT, USA) is co-chair of the organizing committee for Goldschmidt 2018.
Last but not least, congratulations are in order to Emma Liu (University of Cambridge, UK) for winning a L'Oréal UK & Ireland Fellowship For Women in Science, and to Venkata Srinu Bhadram (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA), who is a recipient of the Carnegie Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence Award.
On a personal note, I hope to see many of you in the months ahead at the upcoming meetings.

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

News Features

Microbe in Marine Sediments Has a High-Fiber Diet
Tiny, single-celled archaea called Bathyarchaeota live in marine sediments all over the world. Scientists know that they’re there because they can detect their DNA. But until recently, researchers could only speculate about the role they might play in the environment based on clues in their genomes. DCO Deep Life Community members Fengping Wang (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China), Mark Lever (Aarhus University, Denmark), and Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, (University of Bremen, Germany), and colleagues, have finally discovered a potential function for a subgroup of Bathyarchaeota in marine sediments. In a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that they cultured Bathyarchaeota for the first time in the lab, using sodium bicarbonate as a carbon source and lignin, a complex organic polymer that makes up the woody parts of plants, as an energy source. All lignin originates on land, suggesting that this subgroup of Bathyarchaeota is instrumental in breaking down terrestrial carbon compounds that end up in marine sediments. Read more...

Xenon May Hide in Core with Iron and Nickel
Meteorites are a time capsule from the earliest days of the Solar System. One type, called carbonaceous chondrites, contain some of the most-primitive known samples of Solar System material, including a lot more xenon than occurs in our own planet’s atmosphere. This missing xenon has stumped geophysicists for decades. An international team including DCO members Alexander Goncharov, Hanyu Liu, Sergey Lobanov, (all at Carnegie Institution for Science, USA) and colleagues, is chasing down the solution to this longstanding puzzle. The researchers suspect that the missing xenon may be in Earth’s core. They recreated the core’s temperature and pressure in the lab to show that under these conditions, xenon will interact with iron and nickel. They published their findings in a new paper in Physical Review Letters. Read more...

New Estimate of Global Carbon Degassing
Twenty-eight DCO members came together from 29 April – 4 May 2018 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC to calculate a new estimate of global carbon dioxide (CO2) degassing from large volcanic emitters, small volcanic sources, and diffuse degassing from volcanic regions.The synthesis of massive amounts of data was successfully tackled through a hands-on approach. Science talks were interspersed with breakout sessions, followed by more of the same. “It was the most productive workshop I have ever attended,” said Terry Plank, DCO Executive Committee member and Reservoirs and Fluxes Science Community member (Columbia University, USA), “and should serve as a model for others to come.” Read more...

One of Two New Carbon Minerals is First of Its Kind
Three years and 15 new minerals later, the Carbon Mineral Challenge continues to produce surprises. Launched in 2015, the Carbon Mineral Challenge is a quest to find 145 carbon minerals predicted to exist but yet to be discovered. The latest entries are new carbon minerals ramazzoite and paddlewheelite. Both share copper origins, and both are wrapped in intrigue. Read more...

DCO Support Helped Launch Company
DCO funding supported the development of a rugged, portable volcano monitoring device that helped launch the gas analysis instrument company MIRICO Ltd. Now, the company has received a £3.5 million (about US $4.75 million) investment to support the commercialization of two new instruments using similar technology. Both products have a range of industrial and environmental applications, but also have the potential to advance Earth science research. Read more...

Deep Carbon Science at the 2018 Goldschmidt Conference
A large contingent of DCO researchers will participate in Goldschmidt 2018 from 12–17 August in Boston, USA. Use this day-by-day guide to find DCO talks and posters taking place at the foremost annual, international conference on geochemistry and related subjects, organized by the European Association of Geochemistry and the Geochemical Society. To add additional items to this listing, please contact the DCO Engagement TeamRead more...

DCO Webinar Wednesdays Summer Data Science Series
In this four-part series, members of DCO’s Data Science Team will walk through best practices for data acquisition, processing, and analytics in the geosciences, using Jupyter Notebooks to analyze the datasets used by all four of DCO’s science communities (Extreme Physics and Chemistry, Reservoirs and Fluxes, Deep Energy, and Deep Life). Synthesis Group 2019 and the DCO Engagement Team are hosting this series, which will continue on 13 June 2018 at 2PM EDT. Read more...

Upcoming Events

4D Workshop: Deep-Time Data Driven Discovery and the Evolution of Earth, Washington DC, USA, 4-6 June 2018
The objective of this workshop is to explore ways to advance our understanding of Earth’s complex co-evolving geosphere and biosphere through the collection, analysis, and visualization of large and growing data resources.

DCO Webinar Wednesdays: Adopting RDA Technologies into the DCO Data Portal, 2PM EDT, 13 June 2018
In this webinar, Mark Parsons (Rennselear Polytechnic Institute, USA) will review various technologies recommended by the Research Data Alliance and how they are being implemented in the DCO Data Portal.

Deep Carbon Science Gordon Research Conference, Bryant University, USA, 17-22 June 2018
The meeting will cover deep carbon science in the context of time. We will spotlight the evolution of deep carbon in Earth’s biological and nonbiological reservoirs over 4.6 billion years. 

MELTS/FPMD Training School, Milos, Greece, 18-22 June 2018
Early career scientists are invited to attend a training school on thermodynamic modeling of natural silicate liquids and their equilibria with minerals and fluids, from atomistic to macroscopic scales. 

DCO Webinar Wednesdays: Data Science for Geosciences: Data Processing, 2PM EDT, 11 July 2018
In this webinar, Fang Huang (Rennselear Polytechnic Institute, USA) will focus on data processing using relatively simple python codes, and should be of interest to any researchers working on data science-related projects.

DCO Webinar Wednesdays: Data Science for Geosciences: Analytics, 2PM EDT, 8 August 2018
In the final webinar of this series, Anirudh Prahbu (Rennselear Polytechnic Institute, USA) will demonstrate real-world “geoscience use cases,” helping participants solve scientific problems using data/model-driven decision-making. 

Goldschmidt 2018, Boston MA, USA, 12-17 August 2018
Goldschmidt is the foremost annual, international conference on geochemistry and related subjects, organized by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry. View DCO sessions of special interest here.

School on Convective and Volcanic Clouds Detecting, Monitoring, and Modeling, Nicolosi, Italy, 28 September-6 October 2018 
The purpose of the school is to train students in the detection, monitoring, and modeling of convective and volcanic clouds, including utilizing a variety of techniques, instruments, and satellite data. 

São Paulo School of Advanced Methane Science, Ilhabela, Brazil, 16-26 October 2018
This 10-day training course for graduate students and early career scientists will provide in-depth discussion of the origin and biogeochemistry of methane, new discoveries regarding methane metabolism, methane flux from terrestrial and marine environments, and newly discovered methanotrophic and methanogenic microorganisms. Application deadline: 30 June 2018

International Symposium on Deep Earth Exploration and Practices (DEEP-2018), Beijing, China, 24-26 October 2018
The meeting will serve as a platform where participants exchange ideas on progress in deep exploration of the lithosphere, to better understand deep processes in Earth, expand the new knowledge into practical applications, consider the future, and promote international collaboration on deep exploration of Earth. Registration now open.

GSA Annual Meeting, Indianapolis IN, USA, 4-7 November 2018
The annual meeting of the Geological Society of America will highlight the Indiana area geology, as well as the wider world of geoscience research. 

AGU Fall Meeting, Washington DC, USA, 10-14 December 2018
The American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world.

Honors and Awards

Venkata Srinu Bhadram, Extreme Physics and Chemistry
Carnegie Institution for Science, USA
Carnegie Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence Award 

Emma Liu, Reservoirs and Fluxes
University of Cambridge, UK 
L'Oréal UK & Ireland Fellowship For Women in Science

Funding Opportunities

Simons Postdoctoral Fellowships in Marine Microbial Ecology
The Simons Foundation invites applications for postdoctoral fellowships to support research on fundamental problems in marine microbial ecology. The Foundation is particularly interested in applicants with training in different fields who want to apply their experience to understanding the role of microorganisms in shaping ocean processes, and vice versa, as well as applicants with experience in modeling or theory development. While these cross-disciplinary applicants will receive particular attention, applicants already involved in ocean research also are encouraged to apply. The Foundation anticipates awarding five fellowships in 2018. Applicants should have received their PhD or equivalent degree within three years of the fellowship’s start date. Preference will be for applicants with no more than one year of postdoctoral experience. Applicants may be citizens of any country. Awards can only be issued to nonprofit research universities or research institutions in the U.S. Application deadline: 15 June 2018

Request for Proposals: Census of Deep Life Sequencing Opportunities
Since 2011, the Deep Carbon Observatory’s Deep Life Community has sponsored the Census of Deep Life (CoDL), which has supported surveys of the diversity of microbes present in several deep continental and subseafloor environments. The first surveys (2011-2012) were conducted using 454 pyrosequencing and subsequently (2013) Illumina sequencing strategies were adopted. Through this initiative, the Deep Life Community has allowed the characterization of the diversity of subsurface microbial communities at numerous sites worldwide, including the subseafloor and deep continental locations from a range of geologic settings (e.g., large igneous provinces, subglacial lakes, methane hydrate-rich sediments, cratons). The Illumina platform provides increased numbers of reads for more samples at reduced cost. For DNA samples submitted to the CoDL for sequencing, proponents have the option of obtaining 400-450 nt sequences that span the V4V5 region of Bacterial and Archaeal rRNA coding regions or a greater number of reads for V6 regions that through complete overlap of forward and reverse reads allows detection of lower abundance taxa with reduced stochastic error rates. Shotgun metagenomic DNA sequencing for key samples also can be performed. This call for proposals aims to support sequencing that represents expanded analyses from ongoing Deep Life Community projects or projects that represent sites and investigators new to the DCO’s Deep Life Community. Application deadline: 15 July 2018

GeoPRISMS Program Solicitation
GeoPRISMS (Geodynamic Processes at Rifting and Subducting Margins) Program investigates the coupled geodynamics, earth surface processes, and climate interactions that build and modify continental margins over a wide range of timescales. These interactions cross the shoreline and have applications to margin evolution and dynamics, construction of stratigraphic architecture, accumulation of economic resources, and associated geologic hazards and environmental management. The GeoPRISMS Program includes two broadly integrated science initiatives (Subduction Cycles and Deformation (SCD) and Rift Initiation and Evolution (RIE)), linked by five overarching scientific topics and themes, where transformative advances are likely to occur in the decade 2011-2020, and where a focused scientific program could be most effective. These overarching science topics include 1) Origin and evolution of continental crust; 2) Fluids, magmas and their interactions; 3) Climate-surface-tectonics feedbacks; 4) Geochemical cycles; and 5) Plate boundary deformation and geodynamics. Each of the initiatives has identified primary sites for focused investigations, as well as thematic studies that will complement primary site studies. Full proposal deadline: 13 August 2018

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.

Growth of sedimentary Bathyarchaeota on lignin as an energy source
Tiantian Yu, Weichao Wu, Wenyue Liang, Mark Alexander Lever, Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, and Fengping Wang
PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1718854115

Synthesis of Xenon and Iron-Nickel Intermetallic Compounds at Earth’s Core Thermodynamic Conditions 
Elissaios Stavrou, Yansun Yao, Alexander F. Goncharov, Sergey S. Lobanov, Joseph M. Zaug, Hanyu Liu, Eran Greenberg, and Vitali B. Prakapenka
Physical Review Letters doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.096001

Publication Opportunities

Invitation to Contribute to Fluid-Mineral Interactions Special Issue
A new special issue of Minerals will explore advances in the understanding of fluid-rock inteactions. Edited by DCO’s Alberto Vitale Brovarone (Intitut de Minéralogie, de Pysique des Matériaux et de Cosmochimie, IMPMC, CNRS, France) and Simone Tumiati (Università degli studi di Milano, Italy), the thematic issue aims at exploring fluid-mineral processes from different angles, from natural observations, to experimental and theoretical studies and their implications on reactivity and transformations at lithospheric conditions. Contributions related to the study of deep carbon are especially welcome. All members of the DCO Science Network are invited to submit articles. The submission period will run through the end of 2018. Read more...

Employment Opportunities

Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Gas Geochemistry, University of Oxford, UK
The Department of Earth Sciences is seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Assistant to work under Professor Chris Ballentine. The project that the Research Assistant will be working on revolves around native hydrogen gas which can be found in distinct geological contexts. The hydrogen gas plays a fundamental role in the deep biosphere carbon cycle and could be an alternative clean societal energy source. This project requires a postdoctoral scientist to collect samples from the field in the Sao Francisco basin in Brazil. From the interpretation of noble gas and stable isotope analysis, this project will contribute to our understanding of subsurface hydrogen gas generation and transport mechanisms. The successful candidate will have a PhD or equivalent in geochemistry or a related subject at the time of starting the post, an excellent publication track record, experience in a gas or wet geochemistry laboratory environment, and experience working as part of a team. This project is funded by Total in collaboration with the University of Toronto. Reporting will be through project team meetings, presentations at international conferences and publication of scientific papers. Application deadline: 1 June 2018

Postdoctoral Researcher, Florida State University, USA
The Geochemistry program at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), Florida State University, seeks a postdoctoral researcher in high-temperature geochemistry and/or cosmochemistry. The candidate selected is expected to conduct research in isotopic analysis of extraterrestrial materials. The initial appointment will be for one year, with renewal for up to two additional years conditional upon performance and availability of funding. A PhD in geochemistry or cosmochemistry is required. Geochemical facilities available include a Neptune™ Multicollector ICP-MS, an Element XR™ high resolution ICP-MS, a Class-100 clean laboratory, laser ablation systems, etc. Applicants with experience in high-precision isotopic analysis by MC-ICP-MS (or TIMS) and clean lab geochemical techniques will be given preference. Application deadline: 11 June 2018

Assistant (tenure track) or Associate Professor position in Mineral Resources at the University of Geneva, Switzerland
Applicants are expected to lead a diversified research and teaching program in the field of mineral resources. The successful candidate will implement an ambitious research program addressing the fundamental physical and chemical processes involved in ore forming systems in Earth’s crust, combining cutting edge analytical methods with field-based projects, ideally in collaboration with the mining industry. The research projects should also aim at developing novel concepts and tools in economic geology, applicable to regional scale fertility evaluation projects, footprint identification of ore-forming systems, and mineral and geochemical vectoring at the mining district scale. Ultimately, the research goals should be driven by the challenge of securing sustainable raw material supply to our society and future generations. The successful candidate will join a very active Department with a long tradition of research in Economic Geology. Application deadline: 31 July 2018

Postdoctoral position in Earth Science, American Museum of Natural History, USA
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, American Museum of Natural History, seeks a candidate for a unique, three-year postdoctoral fellowship consisting of 75% research and 25% education. The research will be conducted in fields related to the interests of curatorial faculty member Denton S. Ebel, particularly research that uses the meteorite and/or sedimentary record to understand what chondrite meteorites reveal about the early solar system, and/or what impact ejecta reveal about Earth history. The teaching component supports an innovative Master-of-Arts in Teaching program designed to educate teacher candidates in both the science and pedagogy required to successfully teach the New York State Regents Earth sciences curriculum, which includes about 50% Earth history topics. Field experience is an advantage in this regard. The successful applicant must demonstrate the ability to develop a robust research program, teach collaboratively with museum professionals in the MAT program particularly during summer field experience and research exercises, and assist in coordinating teacher candidate science activities. 

DCO in the News

26 May 2018 What Is Kilauea’s Impact on the Climate?
By Emily Atkin for New Republic
Scientists are tearing their hair out over baseless myths about the erupting volcano in Hawaii...

24 May 2018 As Hawaii’s Kilauea erupts, volcanologists swarm: ‘I expect great science from this event’
By Scott Wilson and Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post
The volcano that began a new round of eruptions on May 3 is proving to be a bonanza for volcanologists, as it cracks apart at its base and blows periodically at its top to jettison lava and plumes of ash across much of an anxious Big Island...

24 May 2018 Globe-hopping documentary 'The Most Unknown' links scientists through ideas
LA Times
Ian Cheney's smile-inducing field trip documentary "The Most Unknown" experiments with a nifty idea: introduce scientists to each other through a global relay of encounters in an effort to find commonality of language and purpose as life's big questions are explored...

24 May 2018 Geologists, students look for clues to Earth’s ‘carbon cycle’
This is SIU 
There’s a lot of talk about carbon these years: How it gets into the atmosphere and its potential impacts on climate...

17 May 2018 Review: ‘The Most Unknown’ Tackles Science’s Big Questions
The New York Times 
You walk out of “The Most Unknown” knowing a little more than you did, and with the sense there’s so much more you don’t...

15 May 2018 Hawaii volcano: Increased ash erupting from Kilauea prompts warning to ‘avoid exposure'
By Ciaran McGrath for the Daily Express 
Increased levels of volcanic ash pouring out of Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea volcano have prompted experts to issue a warning to take steps to avoid exposure...

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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