June 2016 Newsletter

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From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
June 2016
Deep Carbon Observatory
DCO at Goldschmidt 2016
Goldschmidt 2016 offers several events of special interest to the DCO community,
including a DCO Symposium on 26 June.
View a compilation of the events

News Features

DCO Symposium in Yokohama 
DCO is hosting a Symposium at the Pacifico Yokohama Conference Center on Sunday, 26 June 2016 from 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Whether you are local to the Yokohama area or are in town for Goldschmidt 2016, we welcome you to join us at the Symposium for a full day of DCO-related talks. Members of the DCO Executive Committee will provide introductions to DCO's four science communities, followed by a series of invited speakers presenting recent exciting results from the Deep Life, Deep Energy, Reservoirs and Fluxes, and Extreme Physics and Chemistry Communities. Symposium Organizing Committee: Eiji Ohtani (Tohoku University), Fumio Inagaki (JAMSTEC), Kagi Hiroyuki (University of Tokyo), and Yuji Sano (University of Tokyo). The Symposium opens with introductions by the Symposium Organizing Committee and DCO Executive Director Robert Hazen. Mitchell Sogin and Isabelle Daniel will introduce DCO's Deep Life and Deep Energy communities respectively, followed by keynote speaker Ken Takai and invited speakers David Wang and Yohei Suzuki. Marie Edmonds will introduce DCO's Reservoirs and Fluxes community followed by keynote speaker Hiroshi Shinohara and invited speakers Takanori Kagoshima, Takeshi Ohba, and Junichiro Ishibashi. The final session of the day consists of an introduction to the Extreme Physics and Chemistry Community by Craig Manning, and related talks by keynote speaker Toshiaki Iitaka and invited speakers Koichi Mimura and Hiroaki Ohfuji. We will conclude the Symposium with an opportunity for discussion with DCO Executive Committee members and closing comments from DCO Director Craig Schiffries. The Symposium represents a great opportunity to learn more about the latest in deep carbon research and meet other interested scientists from around the world. Registration is required, but free. Please see the Symposium website for more details and/or contact jmays [at] ciw [dot] edu (Jennifer Mays) (DCO Secretariat) for information.

Goldschmidt 2016: Sessions of Special Interest to DCO
During Goldschmidt 2016, which will take place at the Pacifico Yokohama Conference Center from 26 June - 1 July 2016, there are several sessions of special interest to DCO. On Tuesday, 28 June at 11:45 a.m. Terry Plank will deliver a plenary lecture titled "The Volatile Input to Volcanoes and Eruption." Robert Hazen, Craig Manning, Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, Edward Young (2016 Geochemical Fellow), and Chris Ballentine are among several DCO scientists delivering keynote talks throughout the week of the conference. On Monday, 27 June at 1:45 p.m. Alexandra Navrotsky will receive the VM Goldschmidt Award for her outstanding contritbutions to geochemistry. On Tuesday, 28 June at 8:30 a.m. Antje Boetius will deliver the Endowed Biogeochemistry Lecture, and at 1:45 p.m. Laurence Yeung will receive the FW Clarke Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions from early career scientists. Read more...

T-Limit of the Deep Biosphere off Muroto: IODP Expedition 370
One of the key scientific objectives in studies of deep life and carbon is to understand environmental factors that constrain population, activity, diversity, and ecological function of microbial communities, and the extent of habitable zones in Earth's interior. To better constrain the temperature limit of life in the deep biosphere, the International Ocean Discovery Program (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. The expedition is scheduled for 10 September - 10 November 2016. Interested scientists are invited to attend a project workshop onboard Chikyu (25 June 2016). Read more...

Advancing Instrumentation to Study Materials and Reaction in Earth’s Deep Interior
In pioneering work performed at the Geophysical Laboratory Carnegie Institution for Science, USA, Alexander Goncharov and his colleagues developed a variety of optical spectroscopy tools that enable accurate measurements at extreme conditions of high pressure and high temperature. These instruments, developed with partial DCO support, were installed at the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC, USA in 2015. Read more...

Linking DCO’s Communities with Integrated Modeling: New Proposal Funded
Despite the importance of carbon transport by melts and fluids in deep Earth, there is currently no integrated model of chemical communication between the two. In a new proposal funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Mark Ghiorso (OFM Research, USA) and Dimitri Sverjensky (Johns Hopkins University, USA) aim to address this key scientific problem. The proposed work will integrate existing thermodynamic models of magmas (MELTS) and fluids (Deep Earth Water, DEW) and form a framework for modeling mass transfer and transport of carbon and other chemical elements. This work will involve partial reformulation and recalibration of the two models so they can be made interoperable. It will also extend the models to span a continuum of liquid compositions between aqueous solutions and silicate liquids, yielding the first integrated thermodynamic model of the magma-fluid system. Read more...

Microbial Diversity Varies with Depth in Fennoscandian Precambrian Bedrock
The deep microbial biosphere inhabits varied ecological niches. From marine sediments to hydrothermal systems and fissures in continental bedrock, Bacteria and Archaea, and some particularly hardy Eukarya, thrive in complex and often interdependent ecosystems. The combination of advances in DNA sequencing technologies and sampling in numerous locales around the world is changing our understanding of the deep biosphere. A dramatically enhanced appreciation for diversity goes hand in hand with a realization of common keystone species in subsurface niches. In a new study from DCO Deep Life and Deep Energy scientists, Lotta Purkamo (VTT Technical Research Center, Finland) and colleagues investigate the microbes living in the Outokumpu deep borehole in Finland. The borehole extends over 2km into the Fennoscandian Precambrian shield, with fractures into the rock along the length of the hole allowing the team to assess microbial diversity as a function of depth. Read more...

The Trail by Fire Expedition Comes to an End
From October 2015 to February 2016 the Trail by Fire expedition surveyed the length of the Nazca plate subduction zone making gas measurements at 15 active volcanoes from Peru to southern Chile. With nearly 200 active volcanoes (4 currently erupting and 18 in a state of unrest), the South American Andes is one of the world’s most tectonically and volcanically active regions. The remote locations, high elevations (up to 6893 m), and lack of established trails to the summit of most of these volcanoes resulting in this entire region being almost absent from the global database of volcanic gas emissions. The objective for Trail by Fire was to correct this and take a snapshot of volcanic emissions at the scale of an entire volcanic Arc. In this article, the team summarizes their time in the field. 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...

The DCO Engagement Team is seeking feedback on ways we can improve the DCO website. Please take 5 minutes and fill out this short survey by 30 June 2016.

Upcoming Events

DCO Executive Committee Meeting, Yokohama, Japan, 24-26 June 2016

DCO Symposium in Yokohama, Japan, 26 June 2016
Speakers will present recent exciting results from the Deep Life, Deep Energy, Reservoirs and Fluxes, and Extreme Physics and Chemistry Communities. We also take this opportunity to warmly welcome members of the Japanese geochemical, geophysical and geomicrobiological communities to join the DCO Science Network. Attendees do not need to be registered for Goldschmidt 2016 to attend this symposium.

IODP "T-Limit" Project Workshop - Expedition 370: T-Limit of the Deep Biosphere off Muroto, Onboard the Chikyu at the Shimizu port, Shizuoka, Japan, 26 June 2016
The IODP "T-Limit" Project Workshop is a one-day event on 25 June 2016 to be held on the Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu. This workshop will discuss how to achieve important scientific objectives regarding the limits of the deep biosphere during the upcoming IODP Expedition 370.

Goldschmidt 2016, Yokohama, Japan, 26 June - 1 July 2016
View DCO sessions of interest here. 

Chikyu Onboard School, Yokohama, Japan, 3-6 July 2016
This event includes tours of the cutting edge laboratories, equipment, and facilities aboard the scientific drilling vessel Chikyu, and lectures from leading scientists. 

ICDP/DCO International Workshop on Multi-Well Deep Underground Laboratory in Eastern China, Changchun, PR China, 3-8 July 2016
The objective of this ICDP-DCO-MLR-IUGS-CGS sponsored workshop is to develop a full proposal to be submitted to ICDP to implement a deep multi-well (1000 - 6000 m) underground laboratory using the large number of existing boreholes in the Songliao Basin, NE China.

Second DCO Summer School, Yellowstone National Park, USA, 23-28 July 2016 
DCO will hold its second Summer School in Yellowstone National Park from 23-28 July 2016. This Summer School will introduce approximately 35 students and early career researchers to the interdisciplinary concepts, which are the cornerstone of DCO’s approach to understanding Earth. 

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. Apply to sail as expedition outreach staff. Deadline: 18 July 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
Abstract submission is now open. Deadline: 12 July 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.

AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 12-16 December 2016
Abstract submission is now open. Deadline: 3 August 2016
Student travel grant application is now open. Deadline: 10 August 2016

Funding Opportunities

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 July 2016

Second Call for Proposals: Deep Energy Community 
The Deep Energy Community (DEC) of the Deep Carbon Observatory invites proposals for short- term funding of projects and/or activities aimed at addressing the DEC’s decadal goals and/or strengthening the international DEC community and its abilities to generate funding for new and ongoing initiatives. The DEC has identified a number of guiding questions and the DEC Steering Committee encourages submission of ideas for modest short-term support that will address these and other relevant/meritorious efforts with high potential to attract new funding. Examples of supported activities include 1) laboratory research, 2) travel to field sites to collect samples of key importance, 3) working groups and workshops to synthesize data for publication of Deep Energy research, and/or to develop interdisciplinary collaborations, 4) travel to work with collaborators on the preparation of new proposals, or 5) other activities that would advance Deep Energy Goals. More information is available here. Deadline: 20 July 2016

US NSF GeoPRISMS Program Solicitation
The GeoPRISMS (Geodynamic Processes at Rifting and Subducting Margins) Program investigates the coupled geodynamics, Earth surface processes, and climate interactions that build and modify continental margins over a wide range of timescales. These interactions cross the shoreline and have applications to margin evolution and dynamics, construction of stratigraphic architecture, accumulation of economic resources, and associated geologic hazards and environmental management. The GeoPRISMS Program includes two broadly integrated science initiatives (Subduction Cycles and Deformation and Rift Initiation and Evolution), linked by five overarching scientific topics and themes, where transformative advances are likely to occur in the decade 2011-2020, and where a focused scientific program could be most effective. These overarching science topics include 1) Origin and evolution of continental crust; 2) Fluids, magmas and their interactions; 3) Climate-surface-tectonics feedbacks; 4) Geochemical cycles; and 5) Plate boundary deformation and geodynamics. Each of the initiatives has identified primary sites for focused investigations, as well as thematic studies that will complement primary site studies. Deadline: 26 July 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

Direct measurement of thermal conductivity in solid iron at planetary core conditions
Zuzana Konôpková, R. Stewart McWilliams, Natalia Gómez-Pérez and Alexander F. Goncharov
Nature doi:10.1038/nature18009

Microbial co-occurrence patterns in deep Precambrian bedrock fracture fluids 
Lotta Purkamo, Malin Bomberg, Riikka Kietäväinen, Heikki Salavirta, Mari Nyyssönen, Maija Nuppunen-Puputti, Lasse Ahonen, Ilmo Kukkonen, and Merja Itävaara
Biogeosciences doi:10.5194/bg-13-3091-2016

Reduced radiative conductivity of low spin FeO6-octahedra in FeCO3 at high pressure and temperature
Sergey S. Lobanov, Nicholas Holtgrewe, and Alexander F. Goncharov
Earth and Planetary Science Letters doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2016.05.028

International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 357 Preliminary Report: Atlantis Massif Serpentinization and Life
Gretchen L. Früh-Green, Beth N. Orcutt, Sophie Green, Carol Cotterill, and the Expedition 357 Scientists
International Ocean Discovery Program doi:10.14379/iodp.pr.357.2016

Optical Properties of Fluid Hydrogen at the Transition to a Conducting State
R. Stewart McWilliams, D. Allen Dalton, Mohammad F., Alexander F. Goncharov
Physical Review Letters doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.255501 

Employment Opportunities

Postdoctoral Position in Deep Biosphere Research at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, USA
The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is seeking a qualified and highly motivated individual for a postdoctoral research scientist position in the laboratory of Dr. Beth Orcutt. The research will be related to the study of the marine deep biosphere, focusing on the use of subseafloor observatories to study microbial processes, building off international ocean drilling program field sites on the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Flank and/or the Atlantis Massif. Highly successful candidates would have experience with environmental science and/or microbiology or biogeochemistry, with working knowledge of molecular biology techniques (such as DNA extraction, amplification, and sequencing or bioinformatics), microscopy, or stable isotope techniques considered as highly desirable. Applicants must have at least a PhD in marine sciences, oceanography, environmental microbiology or similar field with a proven publication record. Experience with project management or fieldwork also desired. Proficiency in computer programs for word processing and data entry are a must, as well as good written and oral communication skills. The position is offered for two years. The position has an expected start date of September 2016, but this may be negotiated. Review of applicants will begin immediately and proceed until the position is filled.

Faculty Positions in Geosciences and in Environmental Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, USA
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University invites applications for multiple tenure-track or tenured faculty positions. The positions can be filled at the Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor level, starting as early as Fall 2016. The successful candidates are expected to develop internationally recognized and externally funded research programs, to help develop and participate in undergraduate and graduate teaching, and to supervise graduate student research. In the case of an appointment with tenure, the candidate must already be internationally recognized and have a demonstrated record of external research funding. A PhD is required in the Earth Sciences or a related natural sciences discipline; post-doctoral experience is desirable. Applicants are sought for two focus areas: 1. Geosciences including low-temperature geochemistry and studies of the early Earth, cosmochemistry, geophysics and geodynamics, volcanology and igneous petrology. We are particularly interested in candidates whose research has synergies with our recent hires with expertise in sedimentary, metamorphic and tectonic processes, planetary geology, and planetary atmospheres. 2. Environmental Sciences including: natural resources (including water, metals, soils, and energy), ecology, critical zone science, marine sciences, cryospheric sciences, geomorphology, landscape hydrology, environmental change, air pollution, and, biogeochemistry. We are particularly interested in candidates whose research has synergies with our program in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability.
Application deadline: 30 June 2016

PhD Studentship: Chemolithotrophs on Mars: Metabolic pathways and Biosignatures at the University of St Andrews, UK
A fully-funded 42 month PhD Studentship is available within the Planetary Habitability group at the University of St Andrews, supervised by Claire Cousins and Aubrey Zerkle. Please note this project is open to UK and EU nationals only. Whether Mars once supported life is a core aspect of space exploration. A major step in this endeavour is unravelling how life can be geochemically sustained and recorded in Martian environments. This project will use microorganisms from ice-fed hydrothermal lakes and pools in Iceland to elucidate which chemolithotrophic metabolisms dominate Mars-like habitats, and identify their resulting biosignatures that will eventually become part of the geologic record. Just as terrestrial geological processes can be used as analogues for their Martian counterparts, terrestrial biology can serve as a proxy for putative Martian biota. Mars-like environments exist at the Kverkfjöll volcano in Iceland. Chemolithotrophic microbial communities will be enriched from hydrothermal samples under both standard laboratory and simulated Martian conditions. Microbial community genomics, active metabolic pathways, and resulting sedimentary organic products and carbon, nitrogen and sulfur stable isotope biosignatures will be investigated to answer the following: Which chemolithotrophic metabolisms dominate Mars analogue habitats? What organic and inorganic biosignatures are produced by these communities? How do chemolithotrophs and their biosignatures change under Mars-like conditions? General information about eligibility, studying at the University of St Andrews, and the online application form are here. For specific questions about the project please email crc [at] st-andrews [dot] ac [dot] uk (Claire Cousins). Application deadline: 30 June 2016

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 

21 June 2016: Diamonds Illuminate the Origins of Earth's Deepest Oceans
Rachel Becker for Journey to the Center of Earth, Smithsonian.com
Crystals could be the key to where our water came from, and what that means for finding life on other planets...

15 June 2016: What Sustains The Earth’s Magnetic Field? 
Asian Scientist
Earth’s magnetic field shields us from deadly cosmic radiation. Without it, life as we know it could not exist. But how it first emerged and was then sustained throughout Earth’s history has remained a mystery to scientists...

1 June 2016: Just what sustains Earth's magnetic field anyway?
Science Daily
Our planet accreted from rocky material that surrounded our Sun in its youth, and over time the most-dense stuff, iron, sank inward, creating the layers that we know exist today - core, mantle, and crust...

27 May 2016: Geosciences Researcher Awarded Inaugural Deep Carbon Observatory Diversity Grant
University of Arkansas, USA
Seven researchers in the nation are among the inaugural class of Deep Carbon Observatory Diversity Grant recipients — including Celina Suarez, assistant professor of geosciences from the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences...

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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