Some of the most exciting discoveries made by DCO researchers in the last 10 years have been reported on the pages of Nature journals. Nature has compiled these papers and a series of commissioned review articles into a special Deep Carbon collection that reflects the breadth of research occurring within the four research communities: Extreme Physics and Chemistry, Reservoirs and Fluxes, Deep Energy, and Deep Life. Through sponsorship by DCO, many of the articles in the collection will be freely available for one year after publication. Marie Edmonds (Cambridge University, UK), co-chair of the Reservoirs and Fluxes Community Scientific Steering Committee and chair of the Synthesis Group 2019, spearheaded this effort.
“This is a centerpiece of our synthesis efforts,” said Edmonds. “Nature, Nature Geoscience, Nature Communications, and Nature Microbiology have all got together for this collection. The reviews were envisaged as high-level, broad perspectives on various aspects of Deep Carbon Observatory research.”
The variety of previously published papers have increased our understanding of the diversity, population sizes, and metabolic activities of deep microbes; the quantities and forms of carbon in the core, mantle, and crust; how Earth’s formation and evolution dictated the current distribution of carbon; the creation of organic carbon compounds independent of life; and the formation and release of carbon dioxide through various tectonic processes
Terry Plank (Columbia University, USA) and Craig Manning (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), authored the most recent review article on Subducting Carbon, a process that touches on many DCO research areas . They discuss the movement of carbon from microfossils on the seafloor into the subsurface where it can escape through volcanoes, or travel deeper and transform into diamonds. Additional commissioned reviews will publish later this year.
A Q&A with Edmonds and DCO Executive Director Robert Hazen (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA) introduces the collection and lays out the importance of deep carbon science and the future implications for this work .
“I’m hoping this will be a launchpad for the next iteration of carbon science,” said Edmonds. “The collection also points to possibilities for the future, particularly societal challenges such as carbon sequestration, the energy transition, exoplanetary research, and life on other planets. Moving forward, I think those will be the frontier areas.”
Main image credit: NASA