From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
November 2018
Deep Carbon Observatory
tryptophan fluorescence
Using a technique called deep UV-microfluorescence performed at the DISCO beamline of the French synchrotron SOLEIL, researchers show the presence of the amino acid tryptophan inside a clay. The tryptophan, which glows yellow, red, and pink, formed abiotically during aqueous alteration of the oceanic crust. Image credit: IPGP. Read more about this research.

Letter from the Director

DCO scientists reported important discoveries about abiotic synthesis of complex organic molecules on Earth and Mars. A remarkable paper in Nature provides evidence for abiotic synthesis of amino acids in the oceanic lithosphere. “Demonstrating the potential of fluid-rock interactions in the oceanic lithosphere to generate amino acids abiotically gives credence to the hydrothermal theory for the origin of life, and may shed light on ancient metabolisms and the functioning of the present-day deep biosphere,” according to DCO scientists Bénédicte Ménez, Céline Pisapia, Muriel Andreani, Frédéric Jamme, Matthieu Réfrégiers, Laurent Richard, and collaborators. 

DCO members Andrew Steele, Erik Hauri, Richard Wirth, Marc Fries, Karyn Rogers, and colleagues documented organic synthesis on Mars by electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide. “Even if life doesn’t exist on Mars, this study is telling us a huge amount of information on how life potentially started on Earth,” said Steele. “This reaction is probably typical to early Earth, Europa, Enceladus, and other solar system bodies.”

Tectonic degassing of carbon dioxide remains an enigmatic part of the deep carbon cycle. A new paper by DCO members Giancarlo Tamburello, Giovanni Chiodini, and colleagues demonstrates global-scale control of extensional tectonics on CO2 earth degassing

The inaugural symposium of the International Center for Deep Life Investigation (IC-DLI) at Shanghai Jiao Tong University was held in conjunction with a DCO Deep Life Community meeting in Shanghai, China. The IC-DLI will continue deep life research beyond the culmination of the DCO decadal program in 2019. Fengping Wang hosted the DCO meeting in Shanghai and is co-leader of the new IC-DLI.

We are profoundly grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its continued support of the Deep Carbon Observatory, including two new grants that support synthesis research on "Carbon Down Under" and Carbon Mineral Evolution

Congratulations to DCO Executive Committee members Peter Fox and Paula Olsiewski on their election as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Finally, DCO will have a large presence at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting, which will feature numerous deep carbon presentations in a wide range of sessions, including more than 50 presentations about results from the Oman Drilling Project. I look forward to seeing many of you at the conference in Washington, DC, during the week of 10 December.  


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

News Features

Earth’s First Amino Acids May Have Come From Oceanic Crust
As a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the early 1950s, Stanley Miller attempted to recreate the atmosphere of early Earth in a round flask. He mixed water vapor, methane, hydrogen, and ammonia, and zapped it with electricity to simulate lightning. The resulting chemical reactions yielded a collection of amino acids, showing that a handful of gases could provide the building blocks to create proteins. Yet in the decades since Miller’s pioneering experiment, scientists have pointed out that his gas composition likely did not match the primitive atmosphere and cast doubt on the possibility that the amino acids in his dilute "primordial soup" could concentrate and evolve into more complex compounds. But, no one since had found abiotic amino acids created independently of life from terrestrial geochemical processes, preserved in Earth’s geological record. Now, DCO Deep Energy Community members have discovered the “geological mirror” of Miller’s atmospheric experiments and found amino acids that formed in mantle-derived rocks, called serpentinites, from the subseafloor. Bénédicte Ménez (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and Université Paris Diderot, France), Céline Pisapia, (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Université Paris Diderot, France, and Synchrotron SOLEIL, France), Muriel Andreani (Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon, France), Frédéric Jamme, Matthieu Réfrégiers (both at Synchrotron SOLEIL, France), and Laurent Richard (Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan) worked with colleagues Alain Brunelle, Quentin Vanbellingen (Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles, France) and Paul Dumas (Synchrotron SOLEIL, France). The researchers merged several high-resolution microscopy techniques to identify amino acids associated with clays in serpentinites. Their presence lends support to the theory that Earth’s first life may have arisen within hydrothermal systems, beneath vents on the seafloor. They describe their discovery in a new paper in Nature. Read more...

Martian Organic Molecules Came From Natural “Batteries”
In 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover scooped up a handful of Martian soil and analyzed its contents to find several hydrocarbons. That same year, millions of miles away on Earth, researchers discovered similar organic compounds in 10 meteorites, blasted off of the red planet by asteroid or comet impacts, which then fell to Earth. Now, the researchers think they know how these compounds originally formed on Mars. DCO members Andrew Steele (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA), Erik Hauri (deceased, formerly of Carnegie Institution for Science, USA), Richard Wirth (GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany), Marc Fries (NASA Johnson Space Center, USA), and Karyn Rogers (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA) and colleagues used high-resolution transmission electron microscopy to take a nano-scale look at three of those 10 Martian meteorites, and published their work in Science Advances. Based on the mineral patterns, they propose that salty fluids on Mars reacted with the mineral magnetite. The resulting electrochemical reactions transformed dissolved inorganic carbon in the fluids into complex organic molecules. These reactions occur independently of life, but they may be one possible way to generate organic compounds that support the first life forms on potentially habitable planets. Read more...

Clumps of Organic Carbon Found Within Serpentinites
In theory, the process of serpentinization, where seawater infiltrates and reacts with the mantle rock peridotite, should generate clumps of organic carbon called condensed carbonaceous matter (CCM). Scientists have predicted that CCM forms during serpentinization in the absence of life, based on thermodynamic calculations. But until recently, researchers had found only smaller organic compounds, like methane, short hydrocarbons, and organic acids, spewing from serpentinizing sites. In a new study of ancient rocks that were once at the bottom of the Tethys Sea, a group of DCO Deep Energy Community members have identified three types of CCM that form during serpentinization. Each type is associated with a different assemblage of low-temperature minerals. Marie Catherine Sforna (formerly at the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy, now at University of Liège, Belgium), Daniele Brunelli (University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy), Bénédicte Ménez, Céline Pisapia, (both at Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and Université Paris Diderot, France), and Valerio Pasini (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France, and University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy) report the discovery in a new paper in Nature Communications. Read more...

Spreading Faults Create New Deep Carbon Leaks
Since at least the 1970s, scientists have noticed that areas with frequent earthquakes also tend to have springs that bubble with carbon dioxide. They reasoned that slipping tectonic plates opened small rifts in the crust, like stretching an accordion, which lets deep carbon dioxide seep into aquifers and up to the surface. But tracking and measuring the gas that escapes from these faults, called Earth degassing, is an enormous task. Researchers have only performed more detailed studies in a few locations: the Himalayas, central Italy, and the East African Rift. To see if the relationship between shifting tectonics and carbon dioxide release holds true worldwide, DCO Reservoirs and Fluxes Community members Giancarlo Tamburello and Giovanni Chiodini (both at Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy) with INGV colleagues Silvia Pondrelli and Dmitri Rouwet, analyzed global geological databases of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and carbon dioxide-rich springs. In a new paper in Nature Communications, they report a correlation between the locations of carbon dioxide leaks and active faults, especially those that create openings in the crust. These findings could inform future estimates of how Earth degassing has impacted atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperature in the past. Read more...

Two New Sloan Foundation Grants for Deep Carbon Science
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recently announced two new Officer’s Grants for deep carbon science, supporting important community building and modeling efforts. These new projects will invigorate a community of scientists committed to understanding the evolution of deep carbon through deep time through 2019 and beyond. Read more...

DCO Deep Life Community Launches New International Center 
On 30 October 2018 the new International Center for Deep Life Investigation (IC-DLI) held its inaugural symposium at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Following the symposium, DCO’s Deep Life Community held its final all hands meeting, from 31 October – 2 November. The meetings marked a new phase for deep life research, with the IC-DLI poised to carry on deep life research beyond the culmination of the DCO decadal program in 2019. Read more...

Deep Carbon Observatory Webinar Wednesdays Return for Another Run
2019 will begin with a new DCO Webinar Wednesday series highlighting several of DCO’s ongoing synthesis projects. Hosted by DCO’s Engagement Team and Synthesis Group 2019, these webinars will involve audiences in discussion about the challenges overcome by these projects to advance science. Tune in at 2pm ET on 23 January 2019 for the first in the series and join Peter Barry, Karen Lloyd, and Donato Giovannelli. They will discuss DCO’s Biology Meets Subduction field project, where early career scientists conducted a 12-day sampling expedition across the Costa Rican volcanic arc, followed by a second expedition to volcanic regions of Panama. Read more...

Updates from the Field: Expedition Papua New Guinea
The newly funded “Aerial Observations of Volcanic Emissions from Unmanned Aerial Systems” field study, also known as Expedition PNG, got off to a flying start on Monday, 21 October 2018. Led by Emma Liu of the University of Cambridge, UK, expedition participants are using innovative unmanned aerial system technologies (or drones) to collect volcanic gas measurements at Manam and Rabaul Volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. These strongly degassing volcanoes remain largely uncharacterized because their plumes are challenging to access using ground-based techniques. Read more...

DCO at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting
We expect another large contingent of DCO researchers at the AGU Fall Meeting on 10–14 December 2018 in Washington, DC, USA. This day-by-day guide lists sessions involving DCO scientists and others of potential topical interest to DCO attendees. To add additional sessions or presentations to this listing, please contact Katie Pratt of the DCO Engagement Team. Please join us for a DCO poster swarm at 2:30pm on Wednesday, 12 December, during session DI33B: Forms and Fluxes of Deep Carbon in Earth II (starting at poster number 2517). Read more...

Upcoming Events

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. This day-by-day guide lists sessions involving DCO scientists and others of potential topical interest to DCO attendees. Please join us for a DCO poster swarm at 2:30pm on Wednesday, 12 December, during session DI33B: Forms and Fluxes of Deep Carbon in Earth II (starting at poster number 2517).

Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group 2019, University of St Andrews, UK, 8-10 January 2019
This meeting is open to everyone working on volcanic and magmatic geoscience. General themes include eruption processes, subvolcanic processes, monitoring across scales, isotope and trace element geochemistry, ore deposit-formation and exploration, extraterrestrial volcanism and magmatism, and tracking carbon and other volatiles from the mantle to the atmosphere.

Janet Watson Meeting 2019: From Core to Atmosphere: Deep Carbon, Geological Society of London, UK, 26-28 February 2019
This three-day meeting will bring together early career geoscientists and senior members of the Deep Carbon research community. Abstract submission deadline: 14 December 2018

Industry-Rice Earth Science Symposia 2019: Minerals and Energy: Science, Economics and Policy, Rice University, USA, 21-22 March 2019
The purpose of this symposium is to break down the barriers between scientists, policy makers, industry leaders, and business entrepreneurs to collectively generate a deeper understanding of our planet’s natural resources. 

European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna Austria 7-12 April 2019
The EGU General Assembly 2019 will bring together geoscientists from all over the world to one meeting covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences. Abstract submission deadline: 10 January 2019

CIDER 2019 Summer Program: Volcanoes, University of California Berkeley, USA, 17 June-12 July 2019
The CIDER (Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research) 2019 summer program focuses on volcano science. CIDER's collaborative and interdisciplinary nature provides an ideal venue to expose students and postdocs to the rich developments in volcano science, to help synthesize ongoing work in volcanic systems, and to help develop new research teams and research directions. Application deadline: 15 February 2019

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.

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. Abstract deadline: 18 February 2019

Honors and Awards

Peter Arthur Fox, DCO Executive Committee 
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA
2018 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Paula J. Olsiewski, DCO Executive Committee
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, USA
2018 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Funding Opportunities

Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship Program
The Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship Program offers merit-based awards for outstanding graduate students to conduct research related to the International Ocean Discovery Program. The Fellowship year begins in either June or August (summer or fall semester). During the following summer, at the conclusion of the fellowship, Schlanger Fellows may attend a meeting of the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling to present the initial results of their research and take part in U.S. Science Support Program-related activities. Application deadline: 7 December 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.

Abiotic synthesis of amino acids in the recesses of the oceanic lithosphere
Bénédicte Ménez, Céline Pisapia, Muriel Andreani, Frédéric Jamme, Quentin P. Vanbellingen, Alain Brunelle, Laurent Richard, Paul Dumas, and Matthieu Réfrégiers 
Nature doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0684-z 

The rocky road to biomolecules
John A. Baross
Nature doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07262-8

Organic synthesis on Mars by electrochemical reduction of CO2
Andrew Steele, Liane G. Benning, Richard Wirth, Sandra Siljeström, Marc D. Fries, Erik Hauri, Pamela G. Conrad, Karyn Rogers, Jen Eigenbrode, Anja Schreiber, A. Needham, Jianhua H. Wang, Francis M. McCubbin, David Kilcoyne, and Juan Diego Rodriguez Blanco
Science Advances doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat5118 

Tracking hidden organic carbon in rocks using chemometrics and hyperspectral imaging
Céline Pisapia, Frédéric Jamme, Ludovic Duponchel, and Bénédicte Ménez 
Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/s41598-018-20890-4

Global-scale control of extensional tectonics on CO2 earth degassing 
Giancarlo Tamburello, Silvia Pondrelli, Giovanni Chiodini, and Dmitri Rouwet
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/s41467-018-07087-z 

Abiotic formation of condensed carbonaceous matter in the hydrating oceanic crust 
Marie Catherine Sforna, Daniele Brunelli, Céline Pisapia, Valerio Pasini, Daniele Malferrari, and Bénédicte Ménez
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/s41467-018-07385-6

Publication Opportunities

Call for Papers to Contribute to Deep Carbon Science Research Topic
A new research topic in the journal Frontiers will share new insights in deep carbon science from across the DCO Science Network. It will feature papers from all of DCO’s science communities (Extreme Physics and Chemistry, Reservoirs and Fluxes, Deep Energy, and Deep Life) and the Modeling and Visualization and Data Science groups. The editors, Isabelle Danielle (Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, France), Sabin Zahirovic (University of Sydney, Australia), Dan Bower (Universität Bern, Switzerland), Artur Ionescu (Babes-Bolyai University, Romania), Mattia Pistone (Université de Lausanne, Switzerland), Sami Mikhail (University of St Andrews, UK), and Dawn Cardace (University of Rhode Island, USA) invite all DCO scientists and their colleagues to contribute. Abstract submission deadline: 30 November 2018 Read more...

Employment Opportunities

View more employment opportunities on the DCO website.

2019 Exploration Fellowship in Earth and Space Science - Arizona State University, USA
The School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University invites applications for the postdoctoral research scholar position of Exploration Fellow. The mission of the postdoctoral fellowship is to foster SESE’s interdisciplinary research program by attracting and supporting outstanding early career scientists and engineers to pursue independent research in collaboration with SESE faculty. Application deadline: 1 December 2018

Postdoctoral Fellowships - Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science, USA
Applications are invited for postdoctoral fellowship positions to conduct independent research in the fields of astronomy, cosmochemistry, geochemistry, geophysics, planetary science or volcanology. Department of Terrestrial Magmatism staff scientists pursue these fields in the general quest for improved understanding of the origin and evolution of Earth and other planets and planetary systems. The successful applicant’s primary field of research should overlap with one or more of these fields, but collaboration with other research areas on campus is encouraged. Application deadline: 1 December 2018

Carnegie Fellowships at the Geophysical Laboratory, USA
The Geophysical Laboratory invites applications for Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellowships. Current research at the Geophysical Laboratory falls primarily within three overlapping thematic areas: Earth and Planetary Science, Astrobiology and the Origin of Life, and the Chemistry and Physics of Materials at Extreme Conditions. Synergies among these thematic areas, as well as links to many closely related research pursuits at Carnegie’s co-located Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, provide Carnegie Fellows with exceptional opportunities for collaboration. Application deadline: 1 December 2018

Postdoctoral Research Associate Position at the Department of Computer Science, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, USA
The successful candidate will play key roles in research and education activities of several projects related to semantic web, knowledge engineering, data wrangling, big data analytics, and reproducible workflows. Specific responsibilities include: development of knowledge bases in the field of geoscience, facilitating research collaboration on data science with researchers from in and outside the University of Idaho, preparing peer-reviewed publications and education materials, participating in grant proposal preparation, and presentations at professional conferences. Application deadline: 1 December 2018

Graduate Student Fellowship - American Museum of Natural History, USA
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) seeks students for collaborative AMNH-Columbia University and City University of New York (CUNY) PhD programs. Fields of research include mineralogy, marine geochemistry, and meteoritics/planetary sciences. Students must apply simultaneously to Columbia or CUNY and AMNH and are expected to conduct research under the direction of a museum scientist. Application deadline: 15 December 2018

Bateman Postdoctoral Fellowship - Yale University, USA
The Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University announces an annual competition for a Bateman Postdoctoral Fellowship. We welcome applicants with research interests across the full range of disciplines within Earth and planetary sciences, including studies of geophysics, planetary sciences, tectonics, oceans, atmosphere, climate dynamics, geochemistry, paleoclimatology, geobiology, and the evolution of life. Application deadline: 15 December 2018

Tenure Track Position – Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA
The successful candidate will complement our existing interdisciplinary strengths in biology, biological oceanography, and marine ecology. We are particularly interested in applicants who conduct research in marine zooplankton ecology using novel observational, experimental and/or modeling approaches. Expertise may include (but is not limited to) physiology, behavior, trophic interactions, or the impacts of climate change. Application deadline: 17 December 2018

Tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor in Geochemistry - Laurentian University, Ontario, Canada
The Harquail School of Earth Sciences at Laurentian University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor position in Geochemistry to begin in July 2019. We seek an innovative geochemist with outstanding teaching and research skills who will enhance our status as one of the leading global centers in the study of Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology. Application deadline: 31 December 2018

Associate Professor of Isotope Geochemistry / Geochemistry - University of Tennessee, USA
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, invites applications for a nine-month, tenure-line position in Isotope Geochemistry and Geochemistry to be hired at the rank of Associate Professor. The candidate will provide primary oversight of a newly created ICP-MS core facility, which will include quadrupole and multi-collector ICP-MS instruments, a laser ablation system, and a clean laboratory housed in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, located within the newly constructed Strong Hall. Application deadline: 7 January 2019

Two PhD Positions in Volcano Geodynamics - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
We are seeking two excellent PhD students to participate on a project in the Gregg Lab at the University of Illinois to investigate several volcano targets in Alaska. The goal of this work is to use statistical data assimilation to link geodynamic magma chamber models with geophysical observations including GPS, InSAR, and seismicity to assess the stress evolution and eruption potential of Alaskan volcanoes exhibiting unrest. Application deadline: 15 January 2019 

Tenure Track Faculty Position in Paleoclimate / Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions, Kent State University, USA 
The Department of Geology at Kent State University invites applications for an open-rank tenure-track position in sedimentary geology with an emphasis on reconstructing environments and climates across geologic time. The successful candidate will integrate field and laboratory investigations of depositional systems with applications to Earth-life-environment interactions. Application deadline: 15 January 2019 

Postdoctoral Positions in Fluid-Rock Interactions and Deep Subsurface Life - University of Toronto, Canada
One or more postdoctoral positions are available for research projects on the origin, residence times, and geochemical signatures of deep crustal fluids and the subsurface microbial communities that are sustained by water-rock reactions in the deep Earth. Field, laboratory, and modeling opportunities are available to extend the existing program to explore the implications of our work on Earth analogs to the search for life on the rocky bodies and ocean worlds of our solar system. Open until filled.

DCO in the News

14 November 2018 ‘Lost City’ seabed rocks hold clues to Earth’s first amino acids
By James Urquhart for Chemistry World
The amino acid tryptophan has been detected deep beneath the seafloor. Its discoverers believe it wasn’t life that created this chemical but geochemical processes...

14 November 2018 Les premières briques à l'origine de la vie sur Terre observées dans des roches océaniques profondes
L'origine de la vie sur Terre est un champ de recherche extrêmement complexe pour lequel plusieurs hypothèses sont envisagées...

14 November 2018 Group of interdisciplinary scholars to learn how to edit Wikipedia
By Ryan McGrady for
New courses of Wikipedia Fellows have begun this fall. These groups of interdisciplinary scholars will collaborate across disciplines to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of a variety of topics, ultimately making the site’s information more representative, accurate, and complete...

12 November 2018 USGS labels NM volcano a potential risk
By Megan Holmen for
The Red Hill-Quemado volcanic field just west of Quemado, New Mexico was recently added to the New Mexico volcano watch list by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that tracks the potential risk of all volcanoes...

11 November 2018 Looking for life on Mars — at the bottom of a gold mine
By Brit McCandless Farmer for 60 Minutes
Deep in the South African gold mines that line the Vaal River basin, an international team of scientists, including Belgian biologist Gaetan Borgonie, are looking for what they call extreme life — life where no one believed it could exist... 

9 November 2018 Did natural batteries create Mars’ organic carbon?
By Paul Scott Anderson for EarthSky
Earlier in 2018, the Curiosity rover found evidence for abundant organic compounds – those containing carbon – on Mars. Does this mean Mars once had life? Or can some other process explain it? Here’s one idea...

8 November 2018 Des briques de vie dans le manteau océanique
France Inter
L’apparition de la vie est encore un sujet de recherche complexe et débattu…Une équipe française vient de faire une découverte dans le manteau océanique...

8 November 2018 Scientists to write Wikipedia biographies of women in STEM
By Will Kent for 
Only about 17% of biographies on Wikipedia are about women. That number is slowly changing thanks to WikiProject groups like Women in Red and Women Scientists. Now, scholars who take our professional development courses are also helping close that gap...

6 November 2018 Where did the organic matter on Mars come from?
By Dirk Schulze-Makuch for Air & Space Magazine
In a new paper published in Science Advances, Andrew Steele from the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington D.C. and colleagues suggest a chemical pathway for the formation of organic matter on Mars...

5 November 2018 Going subterranean: Repurposed mines become innovative labs
By Josh Knackert for EARTH Magazine
Around the world, old mines are finding new life as underground research facilities, offering scientists unique ways to answer some of science’s biggest questions — from investigations of natural resources, seismic activity and carbon sequestration, to less obvious topics like biofuel development and how life began on Earth — and, maybe, on other planets as well...

2 November 2018 Organic carbon on Mars found to come from natural “batteries”
By Chelsea Gohd for Discover Blogs 
For years, astronomers have wondered where the Red Planet got its organic carbon compounds, which are thought to be necessary for life as we know it on Earth... 


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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