March 2016 Newsletter

From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
March 2016
Deep Carbon Observatory
Piccard hydrothermal vent on the Mid-Cayman Rise
About this image: Hydrothermal vents on the seafloor, such as Piccard vent field on the Mid-Cayman Rise, play host to ecosystems of diverse bacterial and archaeal species thriving on chemical energy derived from water-rock reactions. Credit: WHOI Deep Submergence and Chris German.
Read more about research on these vents from Deep Life's Julie Huber and colleagues here.

News Features

Microbial Community Variability in Hydrothermal Vents Along the Mid-Cayman Rise
Hydrothermal vents on the seafloor play host to thriving ecosystems of diverse bacterial and archaeal species. Since studying microbes living within the rocky seafloor is challenging, researchers sample hydrothermal fluid seeping out of the seafloor as a window into subseafloor communities. The microbes at these sites thrive on energy sources such as hydrogen sulfide and methane derived from water-rock reactions, and are therefore directly linked to the chemistry and geology of the hydrothermal vent. In a recent publication, DCO’s Julie Huber (Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, USA), Jeffrey Seewald (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA), and Jill McDermott (University of Toronto, Canada) and colleagues provide a comprehensive examination of microbial life in the subseafloor at two newly discovered deep-sea hydrothermal systems at the world’s deepest spreading center in the Caribbean Sea, the mafic-hosted Piccard at 4960m and the ultramafic-influenced Von Damm at 2350m. Read more...

Volcanic Gas Precursors to Phreatic Eruptions at Poás Volcano, Costa Rica
Poás volcano (Costa Rica) is one of the most chemically extreme environments on Earth, hosting an ultra-acidic crater lake as well as high temperature fumaroles. The lake was the site of intense phreatic eruptive behavior between 2006 and 2014. Volcanic eruptions involving interaction with water are particularly energetic, causing a disproportionate number of human casualties. Phreatic eruptions are also exceedingly difficult to forecast, often occurring with little or no geophysical precursors. A new article published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters by a group of Deep Carbon Observatory scientists led by Maarten de Moor (Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica) reports the results from a DECADE (Deep Earth Carbon Degassing initiative) project to investigate gas emissions at Poás. Read more...

Mineralogy and Microbiology at the Juan de Fuca Ridge
The largest aquifer on Earth lies within igneous oceanic crust. This deep environment plays host to microbial ecosystems, with diverse bacterial and archaeal communities living on energy produced when circulating seawater reacts with rocks and minerals. Earth’s crust is not homogeneous, however, and in a new paper in Geomicrobiology Journal, DCO’s Amy Smith, Rick Colwell (Oregon State University, USA), and colleagues investigate how variation in crust mineralogy affects the composition and abundance of deep microbial communities. Read more...

EGU 2016 Union Symposium and Sessions of Special Interest to DCO
The Deep Carbon Observatory, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, and several EGU divisions are jointly organizing a Union Symposium on Deep Geofluids at the 2016 European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria from 17-22 June 2016. The Union Symposium will feature presentations by DCO collaborators Peter Kelemen (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, USA) and Chris Ballentine (University of Oxford, UK). Kelemen will speak about the subduction zone carbon cycle and Ballentine will discuss deep ancient fluids in the continental crust and their impact on near-surface economic, environmental, and biological systems. The symposium, which will take place on Thursday, 21 April at 15:30, will be co-chaired by Brian Horsfield, Executive Director, ICDP; Craig Schiffries, Director, DCO; and Christopher Juhlin, President, EGU Division on Energy, Resources and the Environment. Read more...

Film Featuring DCO Scientists at Lake Dziani Dzaha Part of EGU 2016 GeoCinema
A DCO sponsored film produced by Sur une île was selected for screening at the 2016 EGU General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. Lake Dziani Dzaha presents an unusual combination of characteristics making it a likely analog for some hydrocarbon-bearing lacustrine rocks of economic importance and possibly certain Precambrian environments, including expanding rift valleys and basins. A dense population of prokaryotes and cyanobacteria dominates the Dziani Dzaha ecosystem—giving it a permanently green color. Its waters are saline (twice ocean salinity), alkaline (pH = 9), extremely rich in dissolved inorganic carbon (100 times the amount in seawater), and anoxic below one-meter depth. It also precipitates microbialites, which are organo-sedimentary deposits that accrete as a result of a lake-bottom microbial community, forming the locus for mineral precipitation. View the documentary at EGU 2016 in room 0.90 at 2:00pm Tuesday, 19 April, 4:30pm Thursday, 21 April 2016, or on the DCO website here

New Updates from the Trail by Fire Expedition
23 March 2016: Home Sweet Villarrica! Driving to Villarrica felt like coming home. A few years back, several TBF members spent a month there studying the behavior of its lava lake. Back then, they faced a series of storms and found themselves working under the snow and digging out instruments from piles of ice every other morning.
7 March 2016: Nevados de Chillán: Nevados de Chillán was the team's first stop in the Southern Volcanic Zone (SVZ) after crossing the Pampean Gap, and they were all looking forward to getting back to work after such a long journey. Additionally, their clothes had almost lost the odor of sulphur, and they risked having their volcanologist membership cards revoked. Read more...

Meeting Report: DCO Executive Committee Meeting in Washington, DC, March 2016
The Deep Carbon Observatory Executive Committee met on 1-2 March 2016 to discuss overarching themes for DCO’s final years—including modeling and visualization, synthesis and integration, field studies, and instrumentation—as well as plans beyond the end of the decadal program in 2019. The meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., included a strategic discussion with Carnegie president Matthew Scott. Read more...

DCO Engagement and Synthesis: New Proposals Funded
In March 2016, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation approved continued funding for the DCO Engagement Team, and new support for Deep Carbon Observatory synthesis activities. The proposals together lay out complementary aspects of DCO’s Engagement and Synthesis initiatives with a view to sharing DCO science with a range of stakeholders as the 2019 program finale approaches. Read more...

DCO Early Career Scientist Research Topic in Frontiers in Earth Sciences
As a direct outcome of the 2015 DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop, which took place 31 August – 5 September at the University of the Azores, the open access journal Frontiers in Earth Sciences has accepted a proposal to host a special research topic titled “Early Career Scientist Contributions to the Deep Carbon Observatory” Early career scientists from all four of DCO’s scientific communities (Deep Life, Deep Energy, Reservoirs and Fluxes, and Extreme Physics and Chemistry) are welcome to submit both primary research papers and review articles. Abstract submission deadline: 1 May 2016. Read more...

Upcoming Events

C-DEBI Networked Speaker Series #11, Online Presentation, 31 March 2016
Katrina Twing (University of Utah, USA) will deliver a live, online presentation titled "Microbial diversity and metabolic potential of the serpentinite subsurface environment."

@America Public Lecture "Windows into the Earth", Jakarta, 7 April 2016
Tobias Fischer (University of New Mexico, USA) will deliver a public lecture on what active volcanoes tell us about Earth's interior, live streamed and archived here.

European Geosciences General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 17-22 April 2016 
View DCO sessions of interest here

International Diamond School 2016, Edmonton, Canada, 8-10 June 2016
Following the two very successful International Diamond Schools held at Padua, the DCO Diamonds and Mantle Geodynamics of Carbon Consortium will host a 3 day International Diamond School in 2016 on Diamonds and their cratonic mantle hosts at the University of Alberta. Initial expressions of interest can be sent to Graham Pearson.

DCO Executive Committee Meeting, Yokohama, Japan, 25 June 2016

DCO Symposium in Yokohama, Japan, 26 June 2016

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. Application deadline: 31 March 2016

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. The application window has now closed. 

UNOLS Research Training Cruise with Deep-Submergence Assets, 26 July - 8 August 2016
A 2016 Deep Submergence Training Cruise on the R/V Atlantis is being proposed to include a 2-day pre-cruise workshop (26-27 July), 11 days at sea with telepresence (28 July to 7 August), with HOV Alvin (5 science dives) and AUV Sentry, plus a 1 day post-cruise follow-up (8 August); sailing Woods Hole MA to Morehead City NC. This is the first leadership training cruise with deep-submergence assets, and it will be the first ‘telepresence’-enabled leadership training program. Partway through the cruise, participants on R/V Atlantis will move to the Inner Space Center (ISC) at the University of Rhode Island and ISC-based participants will transfer to Atlantis. Small stipends are provided for participant travel costs, research supplies, and shipping. Space is limited. To apply you must be an employee or student (U.S. Citizen or permanent resident) at a U.S. institution or a U.S. citizen working abroad. Application deadline: 30 March 2016

MBL: Strategies and Techniques for Analyzing Microbial Population Structures (STAMPS), 3-13 August 2016
Deep DNA sequencing using massively-parallel, next-generation technology has enabled nearly comprehensive environmental surveys that can describe the different kinds of microbes in a community and their relative abundance. The course is designed for established investigators, postdoctoral fellows and advanced graduate students from diverse biological fields. Application deadline: 8 April 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. 

NSF Subduction Zone Observatory Workshop, Boise, Idaho, USA, 28-30 September 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. Application deadline: 1 June 2016

AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 12-16 December 2016
Session proposal submission is now open here. Deadline: 20 April 2016

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 DLC 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 Fumio Inagaki and Douglas Bartlett.

Call for IODP Scientific Ocean Drilling Proposals
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) explores Earth’s climate history, structure, dynamics, and deep biosphere. The D/V JOIDES Resolution plans to operate 10 months per year in 2018 and 2019 under a long-term, global circumnavigation track based on proposal pressure. Future JR expeditions are projected to follow a path from the southwestern Pacific Ocean, through the Southern Ocean, and into the Atlantic Ocean for opportunities starting there in 2019. The JR is then expected to operate in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico starting in 2020. Although JR proposals for any region are welcomed, pre- and full proposals for these future operational areas are strongly encouraged. MSP expeditions are planned to operate once per year on average, and proposals for any ocean are welcomed. Chikyu operations will be project-based, and new proposals to use Chikyu in riser mode must be Complementary Project Proposals (with cost-sharing). IODP aims to foster joint projects with the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP). Therefore, IODP also invite proposals that coordinate drilling on land and at sea. Deadline: 1 April 2016

Call for Proposals: 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: 30 April 2016

DCO Diversity Grants
In January 2015, the Deep Carbon Observatory began collaborating with the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) to increase the participation and retention of United States citizens and permanent residents who are geoscientists from underrepresented groups (African American, Hispanic, Latino/Latina, Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, Filipino, and Pacific Islander) in DCO. AGI is offering eligible geoscience researchers support for attending national and international conferences to present DCO-related research, travel funds for attending DCO-related workshops, conferences, and events, funds for lab or fieldwork that advances DCO-aligned research, or instrumentation time at DCO-affiliated facilities. Awards are flexible in nature, and a diverse range of proposals is welcome. Applicants must join the DCO Science Network to be eligible. These awards are intended for geoscientists not already engaged in the DCO Science Network to foster collaborations with existing DCO researchers. More information about the grants is available here. Application deadline: 2 May 2016

New Publications

View more papers in the DCO publications browser

Subseafloor microbial communities in hydrogen-rich vent fluids from hydrothermal systems along the Mid-Cayman Rise
Julie Reveillaud, Emily Reddington, Jill McDermott, Christopher Algar, Julie L. Meyer, Sean Sylva, Jeffrey Seewald, Christopher R. German, and Julie A. Huber
Environmental Microbiology doi:10.1111/1462-2920.13173

Deep Crustal Communities of the Juan de Fuca Ridge Are Governed by Mineralogy
Amy R. Smith, Martin R. Fisk, Andrew R. Thurber, Gilberto E. Flores, Olivia U. Mason, Radu Popa, and Frederick S. Colwell 
Geomicrobiology Journal doi:10.1080/01490451.2016.1155001

Short-period volcanic gas precursors to phreatic eruptions: Insights from Poás Volcano, Costa Rica
J. Maarten de Moor, Alessandro Aiuppa, Javier Pacheco, Geoffroy Avard, Christoph Kern, Marco Liuzzo, Maria Martínez, Gaetano Giudice, and Tobias P. Fischer
Earth and Planetary Science Letters doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2016.02.056

Employment Opportunities

DCO Postdoctoral Fellowship: Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon, France
An eighteen-­month postdoctoral fellowship is available in Lyon (France) at the Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon, France, for modeling abiotic hydrogen and methane production at the local and global scale. The fellowship is supported by the Deep Carbon Observatory. The successful applicant will establish local and global budgets of H2 and CH4, based on data mining in the literature and new experimental data to be acquired during the postdoc. The resulting thermodynamic models will be coupled with the state­‐of‐the‐art geodynamic models of the lithosphere. He/she will be part of a very dynamic and interdisciplinary team with complementary expertise in experimental petrology and geochemistry and in geodynamic modeling (Augury team). To apply, please submit a single PDF document to Isabelle Daniel incorporating the following: a cover letter, contact information for two references, curriculum vitae with a publication list, and a statement of past research accomplishments and future research goals (two pages or less). Complete applications will be reviewed as they arrive until the position is filled.

Bigelow: Research Technician
The Deep Biosphere laboratory at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is seeking a qualified and highly motivated individual for a full-time or part-time Research Technician position. Highly successful candidates would have experience with environmental science and/or microbiology, with working knowledge of molecular biology techniques (such as DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing, bioinformatics) and/or microscopy considered as highly desirable. Experience with project management also desired. Proficiency in computer programs for word processing and data entry and good communication skills a must. Applicant must have at minimum a B.S. degree. Research will be conducted primarily at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine, but opportunities may be available for fieldwork. The position is initially offered for one year with continuation for additional years based upon successful job performance. The position is available immediately, but this may be negotiated. Salary will be commensurate with prior experience. Review of applicants will begin on 11 April 2016.

USGS Mendenhall Postdoc Opportunity in Volcano Remote Sensing
A post-doctoral opportunity through the USGS Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program: Bridging the Gaps in Volcano Remote Sensing: Measuring, Monitoring, and Relating Surface Changes and Emissions. The focus of the position is to combine and jointly interpret multiple remote sensing data sets for a more holistic understanding of volcanic processes (e.g., ground deformation, gas and aerosol emissions, and thermal emissions), which may improve our ability to monitor and forecast eruptive episodes and hazards.  The successful candidate will be encouraged to bring together investigations of these related processes using remote sensing observations that span the spectrum of ultraviolet, visible, near infrared, short wave infrared, thermal infrared, and radar, to understand the causal links between these related, but often independently observed and studied, volcanic processes. The position will be based in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA with opportunities to travel to other offices and Volcano Observatories to interact and collaborate with other co-advisors. Application deadline: 2 May 2016

BP Foundation McKenzie Professorship of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK

The Board of Electors to the BP Foundation McKenzie Professorship Earth Sciences invite applications for this Professorship from persons whose work is connected with quantitative physical Earth Sciences to take up an appointment in October 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter. Candidates will have an outstanding research record of international stature in quantitative physical Earth Sciences, especially in the broad areas of geophysics, geodynamics or tectonics and the vision, leadership, experience and enthusiasm to build on current strengths in maintaining and developing a leading research presence. They will hold a PhD or equivalent postgraduate qualification. Applications, consisting of a letter of application, a statement of current and future research plans, a curriculum vitae and a publications list, along with details of three referees should be made online. Application deadline: 2 May 2016

Misasa Summer Intern Program 2016, Okayama University, Japan
The annual Misasa International Student Intern Program for advanced undergraduate (3rd to 4th year) and 1st year master’s students, first initiated in 2005, is designed to promote international collaborative research and education. During the intern program, each student will work on an active Institute for Study of the Earth’s Interior (ISEI) research project under the supervision of ISEI faculty members and their research groups. Successful applicants will participate in one of four intern projects. The goal of the program is for participants to become acquainted with research activities and the state-of-the-art research facilities at the ISEI, and to gain first-hand scientific research experience. At the conclusion of the program, an intern symposium will be held for each participant to give an oral presentation of his/her intern research in English. Application deadline: 9 May 2016

IODP at Texas A&M: Assistant Research Scientist
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) at Texas A&M University invites applications for an Assistant Research Scientist (Expedition Project Manager/Staff Scientist) in the Science Operations section. Preference will be given to applicants with expertise in petrology, inorganic (fluid) geochemistry, downhole logging, petrophysics, and sedimentology. However, applicants in any field of geoscience pertinent to IODP will be considered. A Ph.D. in geosciences or related field, and demonstrated on-going research experience is required. Experience as a seagoing scientist, especially in scientific ocean drilling, is preferred. This position will serve as the Expedition Project Manager to coordinate all aspects of precruise expedition planning, sea-going implementation, and postcruise activities. These duties include sailing as the IODP scientific representative on a two-month IODP expedition approximately once every 1 to 2 years. Individual scientific research, as well as collaboration with colleagues at Texas A&M University in fulfilling its educational mission, is required. This position will also provide scientific advice on laboratory developments in their area of specialization including scientific implementation of downhole logging on the JOIDES Resolution. Application review will begin 16 May 2016, but application consideration will continue until candidates are selected for interviews.

DCO in the News

Read more DCO News here 

23 March 2016: What the Heck is a Diamond Anvil Cell?
Daniel Hummer for the DCOECS15 Blog
In the Extreme Physics and Chemistry (EPC) community, our main goal is to learn about the structure, properties, and behavior of carbon-bearing materials at the extreme temperature and pressure conditions in the interior of Earth and other planetary bodies. Scientists have performed experiments at elevated temperatures for centuries, as there are many methods available for achieving high temperature. Attaining high pressure conditions in the laboratory, however, has historically proved much more problematic.

14 March 2016: Helping the Earth suck carbon
Ari Phillips for Fusion
There’s a lot more carbon stored inside the Earth, where it benignly remains for millions of years, than there is overloading the atmosphere. But because of the discrepancy in immediate human impact, all we ever hear about are the deadly consequences of the stuff above ground as it accumulates in carbon dioxide molecules and amplifies climate change. 

14 March 2016: Rare Minerals May Be a Sign of Life
Dirk Schulze-Makuch for Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine
More than 5,000 minerals have been identified on Earth, more than half of which are classified as rare, meaning they’ve been found in five or fewer places on the planet. Robert Hazen and Jesse Ausubel recently catalogued these rare minerals for the first time. Some are so rare that the cumulative volume of all known samples is less than a cubic centimeter.

8 March 2016: An Earth Scientist Explains The Aurora Aka The Northern Lights
Sami Mikhail for Refinery 29
On Sunday the 6th March 2016 the people of Scotland and northern England witnessed a beautiful natural phenomenon in the night sky, the Aurora Borealis. Living in Fife (colloquially known as the Kingdom of Fife) in Scotland, I was one of the lucky ones.  

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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