August 2016 Newsletter

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From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
August 2016
Deep Carbon Observatory
The Second DCO Summer School

This summer the International Mineralogical Association’s Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification approved two new carbon minerals, ewingite (left) and leószilárdite (right), bringing the total number of new carbon minerals found since the launch of DCO's 
Carbon Mineral Challenge to six. Read more about the new finds here.

News Features

New Model Simulates Carbon Transport in Earth’s Mantle
At Earth’s surface, volcanoes and earthquakes are a constant reminder that our planet is dynamic. That dynamism is driven by the behavior of the planet’s deep interior and processes occurring in the mantle and core such as mantle melting. The depth at which mantle materials melt depends on the elements present in the rock, particularly volatile elements such as carbon and hydrogen, and in turn impacts how much carbon is released during subduction and volcanic eruptions. Even small variations in volatile concentrations can change the temperature of mantle rock melting, lowering it by hundreds of degrees at a given pressure. In a carbon-bearing mantle, melting should begin at much greater depth than it would without carbon. It is this corrosive effect of volatiles that Tobias Keller and Richard Katz (University of Oxford, UK) thought might have interesting implications for melt transport in the mantle. They published new modeling results recently in the Journal of Petrology. Read more...

Second DCO Summer School: Early Career Scientists Explore Deep Carbon in Yellowstone
The second DCO Summer School, held from 23-28 July 2016, brought together an international group of early career scientists for a weeklong, immersive scientific experience in and around Yellowstone National Park. Ten instructors guided the Summer School activities, which included classroom lectures, field trips, and hands-on data collection and analysis. The Summer School program examined Yellowstone’s complex volcanic and hydrothermal systems through the lenses of biology, geology, and chemistry—demonstrating to participants the value of DCO’s multidisciplinary approach to studying carbon in Earth. Read more...

Carbon Mineral Challenge Update: Most Structurally Complex Mineral Found
This summer the International Mineralogical Association’s Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification approved two new carbon minerals, leószilárdite and ewingite. The new minerals were described by Travis Olds (University of Notre Dame, USA) and colleagues, and bring the total number of new carbon minerals found since the launch of the Carbon Mineral Challenge in December 2015 to six. Read more...

Extreme Physics and Chemistry of Deep Earth Solves Geodynamo Mystery
Life on Earth is protected by the core’s geodynamo, which generates a magnetic field around our planet and deflects harmful radiation from the Sun. While the cooling of Earth’s iron rich core and concurrent crystallization of the inner core power the geodynamo today, this has not always been the case. The inner core formed around one billion years ago; however the geological record shows a strong magnetic field has protected Earth for more than three billion years. Researchers studying this conundrum have suggested that mineral exsolution (or precipitation) from the young Earth’s core could have powered an early geodynamo. A new paper from DCO Extreme Physics and Chemistry Scientific Steering Committee member James Badro (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France) and colleagues, published in the journal Nature, suggests the key mineral in this scenario is magnesium oxide. Read more...

DCO DECADE Team Head to Papua New Guinea to Measure Volcanic Carbon Degassing
An international team of scientists is traveling to the islands of Papua New Guinea this September to study degassing from active volcanoes in remote jungles there. Some of these volcanoes are among the most active on Earth, ejecting a significant proportion of global volcanic gases into the atmosphere. The team, led by DCO DECADE (DEep CArbon DEgassing) scientist Brendan McCormick (University of Cambridge, UK) and supported by DCO and NERC COMET (the UK's National Environment Research Council Centre for Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics), will trek through uncharted volcanic lands to deploy novel ground- and unmanned aerial vehicle-based instrumentation at target volcanoes including Rabaul, Ulawan, Pago, and Garbuna volcanoes on the island of New Britain, and Bagana volcano on Bougainville. Working in close collaboration with Rabaul Volcano Observatory, the team, which also includes Roberto D'Aleo (Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy), Peter Barry (University of Oxford, UK), Lois Salem (University of Cambridge, UK), and Bo Galle, Santiago Arellano, and Julia Wallius (all at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden), aims to provide the first detailed measurements of carbon degassing from the region. Read more...

Deeper View: Adventure, Discovery, and Scientific Endeavor: DCO’s Field Studies
For many DCO researchers, deep carbon science requires extensive field work. Deep Life scientists spend weeks to months on research cruises investigating mid-ocean ridges, or venture underground into gold mines to collect valuable microbial samples from the deepest habitable zones on Earth. For some Reservoirs and Fluxes scientists, traversing the dangerous slopes of active volcanoes is the only way to measure carbon emitted from their peaks. Scientists in the Deep Energy community hunt for sources of methane, collecting samples to answer decades-old questions about geologic energy production. Even within the largely lab-based Extreme Physics and Chemistry community, some researchers venture out into nature, collecting rare zircons or other minerals that hold clues about Earth’s past. Read more...

Deep Carbon Science in Wikipedia
Wikipedia, the free crowd-sourced online encyclopedia, is one of the top ten websites in the world in terms of its monthly traffic. Over five million Wikipedia articles cover a vast range of topics, dozens of which relate to topics of interest to DCO, from bioreactor to kimberlite to x-ray diffraction. For DCO, Wikipedia offers an opportunity to present deep carbon science to a broader audience. DCO research will develop new knowledge, as well as refine and expand our understanding of existing topics. Presenting the advances in deep carbon science to an audience numbering in the millions will be an important part of DCO's legacy. For all of these reasons, the Engagement Team is spearheading the effort to include DCO science in relevant Wikipedia entries. To this end, we are soliciting recommendations for article topics. In some cases, DCO researchers will be able to improve or expand upon existing articles by providing expert review. In other cases, DCO researchers may want to provide entirely new content. The Engagement Team will facilitate this process by updating the articles with DCO scientists' edits. While we encourage everyone in the DCO Science Network to review and edit Wikipedia content directly, we are available to assist, answer questions, or make the edits on your behalf. Read more...

Upcoming Events

Modeling Deep Carbon in a Tectonic and Geodynamic Framework, University of Sydney, Australia, 29-30 August 2016

T-Limit of the Deep Biosphere off Muroto, DV Chikyu, Nankai Trough, Japan, 10 September - 10 November 2016
To better constrain the temperature limit of life in the deep biosphere, IODP is preparing Expedition 370 “T-Limit of the Deep Biosphere off Muroto (T-Limit)” with the Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu to revisit Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1174 in the Nankai Trough subduction zone off Cape Muroto, Japan.

Second European Mineralogical Conference, Rimini, Italy, 11-15 September 2016

4th Serpentine Days, Séte, France, 25-29 September 2016
Serpentine Days is an international workshop supported by the Societé Francaise de Minéralogie (French Mineralogical Society) focused on multidisciplinary research on serpentines and serpentinization. 

GSA 2016, Denver, Colorado, USA, 25-28 September 2016

NSF Subduction Zone Observatory Workshop, Boise, Idaho, USA, 29 September - 1 October 2016
The workshop will unite a broad range of participants interested in discussing the scientific motivations for an interdisciplinary Earth, ocean, and atmospheric research program focused around the scientific questions and societal hazards related to subduction zones.

ICDP Training Course on Continental Scientific Drilling, Potsdam, Germany, 16-20 October 2016
This training course will touch upon all relevant aspects of continental scientific drilling, including project planning and management, pre-site surveys, drilling engineering, sample handling and storage, on-site studies, downhole logging, data management, and post-drilling measures.

IAVCEI Cities on Volcanoes, Puerto Varas, Chile, 20-25 November 2016

AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 12-16 December 2016
View DCO sessions of interest here

Funding Opportunities

Open Call for Synthesis-Related Proposals Opens 20 September 2016
With the waning days of summer upon us, it is time to put on your creative thinking cap. SG2019 invites you to start contemplating ideas relating to synthesis and integration of deep carbon science to submit for possible funding. An open call for pre-proposals will be issued 20 September with a closing date of 25 October 2016. Up to three proposals will be funded, with a value of up to $50,000 each. The call is open to the community to ensure all have a chance to participate and be considered. Watch your inbox and check the DCO website on 20 September 2016 and beyond. 

DCO Census of Deep Life Sequencing Opportunities
Since 2011, the Deep Carbon Observatory’s Deep Life Community has sponsored the Census of Deep Life (CoDL) that 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 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 bacterial 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 can also 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. Deadline: 15 September 2016

DCO Deep Life Cultivation Internship Program
The DCO Deep Life Community 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 deep subsurface. In order to maintain and strengthen cultivation strategies in future deep life missions, the Deep Life Community 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 Deep Life Community’s field missions. Financial support includes $5,400 per person for travel and lodging costs and host lab research supply reimbursement. Interested applicants should send their CV, a brief one page statement of their cultivation plans, and a letter of support from their intended host to inagaki [at] jamstec [dot] go [dot] jp (Fumio Inagaki) and dbartlett [at] ucsd [dot] edu (Douglas Bartlett).

New Publications

View more papers in the DCO publications browser

An early geodynamo driven by exsolution of mantle components from Earth’s core
James Badro, Julien Siebert, and Francis Nimmo
Nature doi:10.1038/nature18594

The role of volatiles in reactive melt transport in the asthenosphere
Tobias Keller and Richard F. Katz
Journal of Petrology doi:10.1093/petrology/egw030

Employment Opportunities

Lab Manager for the new Noble Gas Lab at Washington University in St Louis, USA
Washington University in St Louis is seeking a highly-motivated individual to assist in establishing and maintaining the new Noble Gas Laboratory in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Experience with ultra-high vacuum systems, mass spectrometry, and gas processing methods is preferred. The new laboratory will be capable of measuring the full suite of noble gas abundances and isotopic compositions, and will be fully automated using Labview software to run 24 hours. To apply, visit the WUSTL jobs website and search for the job ID number 34204. Applications must be submitted through the website, and applicants should additionally send a CV and contact information for two references to parai [at] wustl [dot] edu (Rita Parai).

Two Faculty Positions in Volcanology at the University of Oregon, USA
The Department of Earth Sciences (formerly Geological Sciences) is seeking outstanding scientists to fill two new open-rank faculty positions beginning Fall 2017 as part of a newly funded Center for Volcanology and Volcanic Hazards. Appointment can be at any rank from tenure-track assistant professor to tenured full professor. We seek applicants who investigate eruption precursors, volcano deformation, conduit processes, magma fragmentation, plume behavior, and/or the transport and deposition of tephra through the use of remote sensing, geodesy, and theoretical, experimental, or numerical modeling approaches. We anticipate filling at least one of the two positions at the assistant professor level, so junior candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. The potential for establishing a vigorous independent research program in volcanology and active participation and excellence in teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels will be the most important criteria for selection. A PhD is required, and postdoctoral experience is preferred for applicants at the assistant professor level. We seek candidates who will complement our existing strengths in volcanology, petrology, geochemistry, seismology, geodynamics, and surface processes. Application deadline: 14 October 2016

Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences at The Ohio State University at Newark, USA
The Ohio State University at Newark is seeking applications for a 9-month, full-time tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences beginning fall, 2017. The Newark campus is an extended campus in The Ohio State University system and is located about 35 miles east of the Columbus campus. Teaching duties include delivering approximately 18 credit hours of instruction per year (semester calendar), primarily in lower-level courses. Research duties include conducting research in accordance with the expectations of the School of Earth Sciences. Service duties encompass contributions to the campus, department, university, and communities in the region. Required qualifications include a PhD in Earth sciences, a culturally responsive pedagogy appropriate for a racially and ethnically diverse student population, a documented record of excellence in teaching at the undergraduate level, and the ability to produce research publishable in scholarly journals. Application deadline: 15 October 2016

DCO in the News

Read more DCO News here 

26 July 2016:  The Unpredictable Planet: Understanding Volcanoes and Earthquakes
BBC's The Forum 
A radio broadcast featuring volcanologist Tamsin Mather (University of Oxford, UK)

Learn more about DCO's Scientific Communities


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.

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.

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.


The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a global community of multi-disciplinary scientists unlocking the inner secrets of Earth through investigations into life, energy, and the fundamentally unique chemistry of carbon.

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