February 2017 Newsletter

From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
February 2017
Deep Carbon Observatory
Biology Meets Subduction

From 12-25 February 2017, a team of DCO Early Career Scientists conducted field work across the Costa Rica volcanic arc. At hot springs and volcanic sites around Costa Rica, the team collected gases, sediments, tephra, and water in the cross-disciplinary DCO Synthesis initiative, Biology Meets Subduction. Read more about the expedition here

Letter from the Director

In a groundbreaking new paper, Edward Young (University of California Los Angeles, USA) and 23 co-authors from 14 institutions in 8 countries report the first resolved measurements of two rare forms of methane in gases collected from a wide range of geologic settings across the globe. These measurements provide unprecedented insights into the origins and evolution of methane, achieving one of DCO’s decadal goals. 

DCO Summer School alumna Suzette Timmerman (Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands) is the lead author of a new paper using diamonds to trace the evolution of the deep carbon cycle beneath Botswana through 2 billion years of Earth history. 

DCO field expeditions are making remarkable progress. Live From Costa Rica, Where “Biology Meets Subduction,” shares the excitement of a field expedition by 20 DCO Early Career Scientists to investigate the deep carbon cycle at the Costa Rica convergent margin from 12-25 February 2017. 

The Oman Drilling Project recently recovered excellent core samples of the sheeted dike/gabbro transition and has begun rotary drilling in the mantle section of the ophiolite. The application process remains open to participate in Oman drilling and core logging activities. 

We invite applications for the Third DCO Early Career Workshop to study Mt. Etna, Italy from 28 August-2 September 2017. As a reminder, DCO will be well represented at the Goldschmidt Conference in Paris and the abstract deadline is 1 April 2017. DCO continues to seek your input as it plans for the future. 

The Geochemical Society announced that DCO Executive Committee member and Deep Life Community co-chair Kai-Uwe Hinrichs (University of Bremen, Germany) has been named the 2017 Patterson Medalist. DCO Deep Life investigator Jill Banfield (University of California Berkeley, USA) has been named 2017 V.M. Goldschmidt Medalist.  

A new mineral, hemleyite, has been named in honor of DCO Executive Committee member Russell J. Hemley. The new mineral is a missing phase among predicted high-pressure polymorphs of Fe-pyroxene. Congratulations to Rus, who is now joined in solid solution with Syun-iti Akimoto. 

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

News Features

Transformational Instrumentation Differentiates Abiotic vs. Biotic Methane
Mysteries associated with methane’s origins and evolution have intrigued the scientific community for decades. Hunting for elusive clues, scientific detectives focused their efforts on seeking reliable signatures of abiotic versus biotic sources of methane. Innovative technology for “fingerprinting” methane is enabling investigators to decipher complicated “crime” scenes at field sites around the world — revolutionizing our understanding of methane. The Deep Carbon Observatory helped launch a new era of high-tech sleuthing when Young et al. (2016) developed a new instrument, the Panorama mass spectrometer, to make the first resolved measurements of two rare forms of methane. These measurements can provide unprecedented insights into the origins and evolution of methane, achieving one of DCO’s decadal goals. In a groundbreaking new paper published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Edward Young (University of California Los Angles, USA) and 23 co-authors from 14 institutions in 8 countries unequivocally demonstrate Panorama’s proof of concept. Read more...

Prony Bay Chimneys Have Surprising First Inhabitants
At the bottom of Prony Bay by New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean, lies a field of tall, rocky edifices called chimneys, which form from streams of warm, alkaline fluids that emerge from the seafloor. These chimneys, and the hydrothermal vent fluids that pour out of them, offer a window into the conditions existing in recesses in the rocks deep beneath the ocean floor, and into the microbes that survive there, in circumstances that could be close to the habitat that supported the first cells on Earth. DCO’s Céline Pisapia, Emmanuelle Gérard, and Bénédicte Ménez (all from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France) and colleagues, examined newly forming chimneys in Prony Bay to identify the first organisms that colonize them. In a new paper in Frontiers in Microbiology, they report the detection of filamentous bacteria, which serve as scaffolding for the chimneys, and likely live on organic compounds present in the vent fluids. Read more...

History of Earth's Early Carbon Cycle Recorded in 2-Billion-Year-Old Diamonds
For jewelry makers, imperfections in diamonds are flaws. But for geologists, these flaws hold valuable clues. Certain flaws, called mineral inclusions, reveal details such as how long the diamond took to form and the processes that shaped its growth. Members of DCO’s Reservoirs and Fluxes Community Gareth Davies, Suzette Timmerman, and Janne Koornneef (all from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam) investigated mineral inclusions within diamonds from Botswana. They identified one containing silicate material that formed 2.3 billion years ago in its interior and a 250-million-year-old garnet crystal towards its outer rim, the largest age range ever detected in a single specimen. Their analysis, published in a new paper in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, suggests that carbon exchange and deposition between the atmosphere, biosphere, oceans, and geosphere may have changed significantly over the past 2.5 billion years. Read more...

New Teaching Tool to Increase Understanding of Gas Hydrates and the Deep Biosphere
When Janelle Sikorski began teaching oceanography to a group of non-science majors at the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she realized that most of the students weren’t aware of the myriad ways that humans and the ocean interact, apart from issues of ocean pollution. Studies suggest that most college students share this lack of awareness of the Earth’s largest geologic feature. To help address this gap, Sikorski worked with Brandon Briggs, a member of DCO’s Deep Life Community, (both now at the University of Alaska Anchorage, USA), to develop a course module that teaches students about the formation and distribution of gas hydrates, which are stable, ice-like deposits of methane and water that form in seafloor sediments. They published their module in a recent paper in the Journal of Geoscience Education. Read more...

New Mineral Named in Honor of DCO co-Executive Director Hemley
Rus Hemley’s pioneering contribution to high-pressure science was recognized this month with a new mineral, hemleyite, named in his honor. Hemley’s colleagues, Luca Bindi, Ming Chen, and Xiande Xie, reported the discovery of the first natural occurrence of the Fe-analogue of akimotoite in Nature Scientific Reports on 15 February 2017. The International Mineralogical Association approved this new mineral and its new name, hemleyite, in honor of Dr. Russell J. Hemley. Hemley is the former director of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and now a research professor at George Washington University, in Washington, DC. Hemley has been instrumental in the work of the Deep Carbon Observatory, and serves as its co-executive director. Read more...

Two Deep Life researchers to be honored by Geochemical Society
The Geochemical Society will honor Deep Life researchers, Jill Banfield and Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, with two of its highest honors at the Goldschmidt 2017 conference in Paris, France this August. Dr. Jillian Banfield, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California Berkeley, USA, will receive the 2017 V. M. Goldschmidt Award. Dr. Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, professor of organic geochemistry in the Department of Geosciences/MARUM, University of Bremen, Germany, will receive the 2017 Clair C. Patterson Award this summer. Read more...

Loss of John Hayes, a Deep Carbon Pioneer
John Hayes, a geochemist and an esteemed member of the Deep Carbon Observatory’s Science Network, passed away at his home in Berkeley California on 3 February 2017. Hayes was a scientist emeritus at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and retired director of its National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility. “John was the leading pioneer of molecular-isotopic biogeochemistry and has been a great inspiration for so many younger scientists, including me. His passing will leave a huge gap in the geochemistry community. I will miss John very much - as scientific mentor and friend. I am very grateful for his guidance, generosity and warm friendship, and for sharing his unique approach to science,” said Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, University of Bremen, Germany, and co-chair of DCO’s Deep Life Community. Read more...

Expedition Blog: Live From Costa Rica, Where “Biology Meets Subduction”
From 12-25 February 2017, a team of 25 DCO Early Career Scientists from five countries and representing all four DCO Science Communities was in the field to investigate the deep carbon cycle in the Costa Rica volcanic arc. Catch up on the team's scientific adventure. Read more...

Expedition Blog: Embers Alight on the Trail By Fire 1.5!
The first Trail by Fire expedition to Chile and Southern Peru was a resounding success, but has only stoked “The Fire.” The Nazca Subduction Zone does not end in Peru, and neither does the Trail by Fire! This time, the team is working on Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Reventador, and Guagua Pichincha in Ecuador, facing new challenges in the jungle of the equatorial Andes. Read more...

APPLY NOW: Third DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop to Study Mt. Etna
The Deep Carbon Observatory, in collaboration with the Department of Earth Sciences of Sapienza University (Rome), is hosting its third Early Career Scientist Workshop in Nicolosi (Etna), Italy, 28 August-2 September 2017. This workshop will bring together the next generation of researchers active in deep carbon studies from around the world. Building on the success of the first and second DCO Early Career Scientist Workshops, this third workshop of early career researchers will continue to foster collaboration and community within the ever expanding DCO Science Network. Read more...

Upcoming Events

Third DCO International Science Meeting, St. Andrews, Scotland, 23-25 March 2017
The Deep Carbon Observatory will hold its Third International Science Meeting at the University of St. Andrews. This meeting will showcase recent results from scientists working in all fields of deep carbon research.

EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 23-28 April 2017
The European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 will bring together geoscientists from all over the world to one meeting covering all disciplines of Earth, planetary, and space sciences. 

Deep Continental Drilling into the Moho in the Ivaea-Verbano Zone ICDP Workshop, Baveno, Italy, 2-5 May 2017
This workshop is aimed at developing a strategic plan for drilling into the continental crust-mantle transition in the Ivaea-Verbano Zone. 

JpGU-AGU Joint Meeting, Makuhari Messe, Japan, 20-25 May 2017
In May 2017, the Japan Geoscience Union and the American Geophysical Union will hold the first joint meeting of the two societies. More than 50 sessions, covering all areas of the Earth and space sciences, will be presented in English for inter- and trans-disciplinary scientists. 

Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France, 13-18 August 2017
Goldschmidt, the foremost annual, international conference on geochemistry and related subjects, will be held in Paris in 2017. View sessions of interest to DCO. Abstract submission deadline: 1 April 2017

IAVCEI 2017 Scientific Assembly, Portland, Oregon, USA, 14-18 August 2017
This conference will cover planetary volcanology and chemistry of Earth's interior, eruption dynamics, including a practical understanding of the environmental and social impacts of eruptions. Abstract submission deadline: 17 March 2017

Third DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop, Etna, Italy, 28 August-2 September 2017
This workshop will bring together the next generation of researchers active in deep carbon studies from around the world. Application deadline: 14 April 2017

2017 GSA Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington, USA 22-25 October 2017
Seattle, Washington, is the location for the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America and includes opportunities for local field experiences. 

Honors and Awards

Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, DCO Deep Life co-Chair
University of Bremen, Germany
2017 Clair C. Patterson Award
Jill Banfield, Deep Life
University of California Berkeley, USA
2017 V.M. Goldschmidt Award

Russell J. Hemley, DCO co-Executive Director
George Washington University, USA
Honored with naming of new mineral, hemleyite

Funding Opportunities

Nominate an individual for the Asahiko Taira International Scientific Ocean Drilling Research Prize
The Asahiko Taira International Scientific Ocean Drilling Research Prize is given annually to one honoree in recognition of “outstanding transdisciplinary research accomplishment in ocean drilling.” Established in 2014, the Taira Prize is a partnership between the American Geophysical Union and the Japan Geoscience Union, and is made possible through the generous donation from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International. The prize is given in honor of Dr. Asahiko Taira of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. Nomination deadline: 15 March 2017

IODP: Submit an IODP Drilling Proposal
The Proposal Database System (PDB) is a web-based interface for completing and submitting IODP proposals. Potential submitters are advised to begin working with PDB as soon as a proposal is planned. Complete proposal preparation guidance, format requirements, and review policies are explained in the IODP Proposal Submission Guidelines. A Call for Scientific Ocean Drilling Proposals is usually published at least two months in advance of the deadline with specifics about what types of proposals are being sought. Proponents are strongly encouraged to contact the Science Operators to discuss platform-specific operational and fiscal constraints before developing proposals. Next proposal submission deadline: 3 April 2017

C-DEBI: Rolling call for Research Exchange proposals
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 $500-5000 with additional matched funds to be granted annually. 

New Publications

View more papers in the DCO publications browser.

The relative abundances of resolved l2CH2D2 and 13CH3D and mechanisms controlling isotopic bond ordering in abiotic and biotic methane gases
Edward D. Young, Issaku E. Kohl, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Giuseppe Etiope, Douglas Rumble III, S. Li, Mojhgan A. Haghnegahdar, Edwin A. Schauble, Kaitlyn A. McCain, Dionysus I. Foustoukos, Chelsea Sutclife, Oliver Warr, Christopher J. Ballentine, Tullis C. Onstott, Hakan Hosgormez, Anna Neubeck, José M. Marques, Illeana Pérez-Rodríguez, Annette R. Rowe, Doug E. LaRowe, Cara Magnabosco, Laurence Y. Yeung, Jeanine L. Ash, and L.Taras Bryndzia
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta doi:10.1016/j.gca.2016.12.041

Dated eclogitic diamond growth zones reveal variable recycling of crustal carbon through time
Suzette Timmerman, Janne M. Koornneef, Ingrid L. Chinn, and Gareth R. Davies
Earth and Planetary Science Letters doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2017.02.001

Mineralizing filamentous bacteria from the Prony Bay Hydrothermal Field give new insights into the functioning of serpentinization-based subseafloor ecosystems
Céline Pisapia, Emmanuelle Gérard, Martine Gérard, Léna Lecourt, Susan Q. Lang, Bernard Pelletier, Claude E. Payri, Christophe Monnin, Linda Guentas, Anne Postec, Marianne Quéméneur, Gaël Erauso, and Bénédicte Ménez
Frontiers in Microbiology doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.00057

Discovery of the Fe-analogue of akimotoite in the shocked Suizhou L6 chondrite
Luca Bindi, Ming Chen, and Xiande Xie
Nature Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep42674

Putting the deep biosphere and gas hydrates on the map
Janelle J. Sikorski and Brandon R. Briggs 
Journal of Geoscience Education doi:10.5408/15-136.1

Chemistry of hydrocarbons under extreme thermobaric conditions
Anton Yu. Kolesnikov, John M. Saul, and Vladimir G. Kutcherov
Chemistry Select doi:10.1002/slct.201601123

Atlantis Massif Serpentinization and Life
Gretchen L. Früh-Green, Beth N. Orcutt, Sophie L. Green, Carol Cotterill, and the Expedition 357 Scientists
Proceedings of the International Ocean Discovery Program ISSN: 2377-3189

Employment Opportunities

Research Fellow in Volcanology, Montserrat Volcano Observatory, University of the West Indies
Applications are invited for the post of Research Fellow (Volcanology) at the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies to be based at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Montserrat. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) is a Statutory Body established by the Government of Montserrat. MVO monitors activity at the active Soufrière Hills Volcano using a wide variety of equipment, some of which has been developed with overseas research partners. MVO also has a wide and varied outreach program. The successful candidate must possess a PhD or equivalent in a volcanological or risk-related subject. Candidates should have experience in quantitative risk assessment of hazardous phenomena along with familiarity with the development of training courses. Practical or residential experience at a volcano observatory would be advantageous. Application deadline: 5 March 2017

Postdoctoral Researcher in Igneous Petrology-Geochemistry, Durham University, UK
Applications are invited for a Research Associate (PDRA) to work in the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University. The position forms a critical component of the 5-year NERC-funded consortium project "Mantle volatiles: Processes, reservoirs and fluxes." The position is a fixed term for 24 months, with a start date preferably on or before 1 May 2017. The aim of the project is to improve understanding of volatile recycling at subduction zones through analysis and characterization of primitive rocks from Kamchatka for volatiles and trace elements, using a range of methods to examine and interpret H, C, F, Cl, S, B, and B isotopic compositions. Likely analytical techniques will include electron microprobe, laser ablation ICP-MS, secondary ion mass spectrometry and possibly synchrotron source methods. The project will complement ongoing work on volatiles and noble gases in ocean island basalts and mid-ocean ridge basalts within the consortium. Application deadline: 13 March 2017

Assistant Professor of Geology in Petrology/Mineralogy, University of Georgia, USA
The Department of Geology at the University of Georgia seeks to fill a position for a tenure-track assistant professor in the field of petrology/mineralogy, welcoming applications from scientists in both the Earth and planetary sciences to complement the department’s growing focus in planetary sciences. We encourage applications from petrologists/mineralogists with strong backgrounds in chemistry and physics who may employ unconventional and interdisciplinary approaches to address big-picture questions including, but not limited to, petrologic and/or mineralogical aspects of planetary evolution involving core, mantle, and/or crustal processes. Open until filled.

PhD positions in Geomicrobiology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA
The Department of Earth and Environmental Science and the Center for Energy Research at the University of Pennsylvania seek graduate students interested in any of the following research areas: geomicrobiology, ecology, microbe-microbe and microbe-mineral interactions, biogeochemistry, ecophysiology, and bioenergetics. The successful applicants will be awarded a PhD Fellowship package that includes: tuition, fees, health care, and stipend for living expenses. These packages are available starting Fall 2017.

DCO in the News

Read more DCO News here

21 February 2017: Synthesizing Our Understanding of Earth's Deep Carbon
By Marie Edmonds and Craig Manning for Eos
The Deep Carbon Observatory is entering a new phase, in which it will integrate 10 years of discoveries into an overarching model to benefit the scientific community and a wider public...

8 February 2017: Three New Uranium Minerals from Utah
Science Daily
Three new minerals recently discovered are secondary crusts found in old uranium mines in southern Utah. They're bright, yellow and hard to find. Meet leesite, leószilárdite and redcanyonite...

6 February 2017: What Mineral Evolution Tells Us About Life On Earth—And Beyond
By Adam Mann for now.space
A theoretical biologist and a mineralogist are at a Christmas party. The former turns to the later and asks: “Were there clay minerals during the Archean Era?”

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.

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