Welcome to the Deep Carbon Observatory

A global community of more than 1000 scientists on a ten-year quest to understand the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon inside Earth.

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These archaea, Altiarchaeales, were originally found living in sulfidic springs in Germany. Scientists collected water samples from a 30m-deep borehole, however the cells they analyzed could be living at much greater depths. Each cell is surrounded by a fuzzy coat of “hami,” hair-like appendages with “grappling hooks” at the end and barb-wire-like prickles along their length. These surface structures help the cells stick to surfaces. Image courtesy of Christine Moissl-Eichinger (Medical University of Graz, Austria), colorized to enhance the forms.

Read more about the unusual life forms living in deep Earth:
Life in Deep Earth Totals 15 to 23 Billion Tonnes of Carbon—Hundreds of Times More than Humans

DCO Highlights New Book Sings Carbon’s Praises

Just in time for the “Year of Carbon,” DCO Executive Director Robert Hazen has published a sweeping history of carbon: Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything....

DCO Highlights VIDEO: Karen Lloyd TED Talk, April 2019

Microbiologist Karen Lloyd takes us on a trip to the volcanoes and hot springs of Costa Rica, shining a light on subterranean organisms and how they could have a profound impact on life at Earth's surface....

DCO Research Erosion Greased the Wheels of Plate Tectonics

Sediments from erosion reduce the friction when one tectonic plate sinks beneath another into the mantle. This also may be true in Earth’s past, and a new hypothesis proposes that sediments helped kickstart plate tectonics, ushering in the modern active era....

DCO Highlights The ENIGMA of Protein Evolution

The Evolution of Nanomachines in Geospheres and Microbial Ancestors (ENIGMA) project has received a $6 million grant from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to investigate how Earth’s chemistry and geology enabled proteins to evolve....

DCO Highlights 2019 DCO Emerging Leader Award Nominations

The Deep Carbon Observatory invites all members of the DCO community to submit nominations for the 2019 DCO Emerging Leader Awards. ...

Discover

Learn more about DCO's integrative approach, which emphasizes cross-disciplinary research activities in data science, instrumentation, field studies, and modeling and visualization, or discover deep carbon research by exploring DCO books, special issues, and journal articles.

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Extreme Physics and Chemistry 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.
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Reservoirs and Fluxes Dedicated to identifying deep carbon reservoirs, determining how carbon moves among these reservoirs, and assessing Earth’s total carbon budget.
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Deep Energy Dedicated to understanding the volume and rates of abiogenic hydrocarbons and other organic species in the crust and mantle through geological time.
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Deep Life Dedicated to assessing the nature and extent of the deep microbial and viral biosphere.
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