July 2016 Newsletter

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From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
July 2016
Deep Carbon Observatory
The Second DCO Summer School
A group of 35 graduate students and early career researchers are enrolled in the Second DCO Summer School. This weeklong program in Yellowstone National Park involves a variety of interdisciplinary classroom- and field-based experiences, including lectures, poster sessions, and field trips. Follow the hashtag #DCOSS16 on Twitter for updates from the program, or visit this page on deepcarbon.net.

News Features

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...

New Advances in Understanding Microbes in the Marine Deep Biosphere
Underlying the bottom of Earth’s oceans is sediment containing layers of aging organic matter built up over millions of years. In this sediment lives a largely unknown ecosystem of microbes, the marine deep biosphere, which depends on nutrients and energy from the sediment. The physical and chemical composition of sediment varies dramatically. However, the precise relationships between sediment variation over time and microbial diversity are unclear. In two new papers from DCO Deep Life scientists John Kirkpatrick, Emily Walsh, Steven D’Hondt (all at the University of Rhode Island) and colleagues address the preservation of ancient microbiota trapped in the sediment over time and identify new factors controlling microbial diversity in sediment ecosystems. Read more...

New Estimates of Volatiles in Melt Inclusions
Host crystals of melt inclusions ideally act as a pressure capsule, preventing the total exsolution and “escape” of volatile from the trapped melt, and thus hold valuable information about Earth’s volatile budget. In addition, melt inclusions represent the tool that Mother Nature provided to investigate the type of magmatic fluid exsolving from natural melts at sub-volcanic conditions. Melt inclusions, however, are technically very challenging to work with. In a new paper published in the journal American Mineralogist, DCO’s Rosario Esposito (University of California Los Angeles, USA; previously at University of Naples “Federico II,” Italy) and colleagues carefully analyze melt inclusions in samples from Mt. Somma-Vesuvius, Italy, to address the behavior of carbon dioxide, water, and sulfur in melt at sub-volcanic conditions. Read more...

DCO Science Network Expands in Japan
More than 100 scientists from around the world gathered to share their latest research findings regarding the role of deep carbon in planetary function at the Pacifico Yokohama Conference Center on 26 June 2016. The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) Symposium in Yokohama brought together leaders of the four DCO Science Communities and their eminent Japanese colleagues for an exciting, interactive, daylong session of discussion and discovery. Co-chairs from DCO’s Deep Life, Deep Energy, Reservoirs and Fluxes, and Extreme Physics and Chemistry Communities presented recent findings, while their Japanese colleagues shared their research endeavors and how they are contributing to deep carbon understanding on a global basis. Read more...

Third International Diamond School at the University of Alberta, Canada
The Third International Diamond School took place at the University of Alberta, with the Deep Carbon Observatory as the main event sponsor (together with De Beers and IsoMass). DCO's Graham Pearson (Reservoirs and Fluxes Scientific Steering Committee member; University of Alberta, Canada), Steve Shirey (Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, USA), Thomas Stachel University of Alberta, Canada), Bob Luth (University of Alberta, Canada) and Fabrizio Nestola (University of Padua, Italy) were the principal conveners. The event continued in the tradition of having a mixed participation of students, senior academics, and industry. Seventy-five delegates, including 2 BSc students, and 30 PhD and Masters students from Canada, USA, Australia, and the UK attended, along with 18 delegates from industry and Government/Provincial Geological Surveys. Read more...

International Workshop on Multi-Well Deep Underground Laboratory in Eastern China
An international workshop on a Multi-Well Deep Underground Laboratory (MW-DUL) in Eastern China was convened in Changchun, China from 3-8 July 2016. The MW-DUL is designed to utilize existing wells, including scientific drilling borehole SK-2, Lincan-1, Chinese Continental Scientific Drilling (CCSD), Hong-25, and some oil wells in the Songliao Basin to observe geophysical, chemical, and biological processes at great depth. The principal goal of the workshop is to develop a full drilling proposal to the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP). Approximately 70 engineers, geologists, and biologists from the United States, Germany, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Austria, and China participated in the workshop. The ICDP and Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) were sponsors of the workshop.. 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...

AGU 2016 Fall Meeting Sessions of Interest to the DCO Community
The 2016 AGU Fall Meeting will take place in San Francisco from 12-16 December. The abstract submission window is now open, and there are a variety of sessions of interest to the DCO Community. A list of these sessions is available on the DCO website. To add additional sessions to this listing, please contact the DCO Engagement Team. Abstract submission deadline: 3 August 2016 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

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 seeks a broad range of applicants 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
Abstract submission is now open. Deadline: 3 August 2016
View DCO sessions of interest here
Student travel grant application is now open. Deadline: 10 August 2016

Honors and Awards

Maya Tolstoy, Reservoirs and Fluxes,
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, USA
American Geophysical Union: 2016 Birch Lecturer

Esteban Gazel, Reservoirs and Fluxes,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA
American Geophysical Union: 2016 Hisashi Kuno Award

Funding Opportunities

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

Detection of liquid H2O in vapor bubbles in reheated melt inclusions: Implications for magmatic fluid composition and volatile budgets of magmas?
Rosario Esposito, Hector M. Lamadrid, Daniele Redi, Matthew Steele-MacInnis, Robert J. Bodnar, Craig E. Manning, Benedetto De Vivo, Claudia Cannatelli, and Annamaria Lima
American Mineralogist doi:10.2138/am-2016-5689 

Relationship of bacterial richness to organic degradation rate and sediment age in subseafloor sediment
Emily A. Walsh, John B. Kirkpatrick, Robert Pockalny, Justine Sauvage, Arthur J. Spivack, Richard W. Murray, Mitchell L. Sogin, and Steven D'Hondt
Applied and Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1128/AEM.00809-16

Fossil DNA persistence and decay in marine sediment over hundred-thousand-year to million-year time scales
John B. Kirkpatrick, Emily A. Walsh. and Steven D'Hondt
Geology doi:10.1130/G37933.1

Employment Opportunities

Staff Scientist Position in Geophysics, Geochemistry, and/or Cosmochemistry at Carnegie DTM, Washington DC, USA
The Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) at the Carnegie Institution for Science seeks applicants for the position of Staff Scientist in the broad categories of geophysics, geochemistry, and/or cosmochemistry. We are particularly interested in innovative researchers whose observations help constrain the role of fluids (e.g., water, other volatiles, melt) in: the past and present evolution of the solid Earth; the formation and early development of Earth’s atmosphere; and/or the origin of volatiles on Earth and other rocky planets. Subfields of interest include, but are not limited to, geodesy, geo/cosmochemistry, magnetotellurics, noble gases, remote sensing, seismology, and/or astrochemistry. Applicants who integrate across traditional boundaries are particularly encouraged to apply. The applicant should complement existing strengths within the Department. We especially encourage applications from early career scientists and from members of traditionally underrepresented groups. Applications should be submitted online here and should include a curriculum vitae, a brief statement of research plans, and abstracts from the applicant’s three most important papers. Please also provide the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of three professional referees, whose letters may be requested by DTM. Review of applications will begin 1 August 2016.

DCO in the News

Read more DCO News here 

13 July 2016: 激レア判定:地球上で最も希少な鉱物のカタログが作成される 
("Earth's Rarest Minerals Catalogued")

12 July 2016: The World's Rarest Minerals Are Finally Cataloged
Trevor Nace for Forbes
Geologists have sifted through over 5,000 minerals known to date and identified a handful of the world’s rarest minerals, many times rarer than diamonds...

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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