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From the Deep, a monthly newsletter from DCO
January 2017

Deep Carbon Observatory

DCO Emerging Leader Awards

The Deep Carbon Observatory invites all members of the DCO community to submit nominations for the 2016 DCO Emerging Leader Awards. These awards, bestowed annually, honor DCO early career scientists for distinguished performance and unique potential as leaders of the deep carbon science community. Find out more about the nomination process here.

Letter from the Director

The Deep Carbon Observatory had a banner year in 2016 as summarized in the Deep Carbon Observatory 2016: Year in Review. Prepared by the DCO Secretariat, this slide presentation highlights DCO’s crosscutting activities and Science Community accomplishments. It also features early career scientists, who embody the future of deep carbon science.

DCO seeks your input as it plans for the future. DCO launched Task Force 2020, chaired by Claude Jaupart (IPGP, France), to sustain and build upon the momentum and impact of DCO. To hear from the community directly, TF2020 is distributing a questionnaire to all members of the DCO Science Network. Please take the time to provide your input and help ensure the future of international, collaborative research in deep carbon science.

This year, DCO will be well represented at the Goldschmidt Conference in Paris, France from 13-18 August 2017, with more than 20 sessions of special interest to DCO. Please consider submitting an abstract to one of these sessions, such as “Deep Carbon” and “Reactions in Earth’s Carbon Cycle from the Surface to the Center.” The abstract deadline is 1 April 2017.

We invite all members of the DCO community to submit nominations for the DCO Emerging Leader Awards.

Congratulations to DCO colleagues who will be honored at Goldschmidt 2017. Eiji Ohtani (Tohoku University, Japan) will receive the Harold Urey Award, recognizing outstanding contributions advancing geochemistry over a career. Shuhei Ono (MIT, USA) will deliver the Paul W. Gast Lecture, which honors a mid-career scientist for outstanding contributions to geochemistry. Bernard Marty (CRPG Nancy, France) has begun his term as president of the European Association of Geochemistry, which co-organizes the Goldschmidt Conference.

We are optimistic that the successes of 2016 will continue through the new year and beyond.  

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

News Features

Deep Carbon Degassing Measurements Help Explain Unrest at Campi Flegrei
Volcanoes are enigmatic and largely unpredictable. As they become more active, scientists track underground phenomena using a variety of measurements. Increases in seismic activity and ground deformation often indicate impending volcanic eruptions. Work from DCO’s DECADE (Deep Earth Carbon Degassing) initiative suggests measuring volcanic gas emissions is also a powerful way of understanding the mechanisms driving changes in volcanic activity. Over the last ten years, ground uplift at Campi Flegrei, an enormous caldera in Italy, resulted in intense scientific scrutiny of this reawakening volcano. DECADE’s Giovanni Chiodini (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Bologna, Italy) and colleagues began collecting gas samples from Solfatara, an active fumarolic field within the 12km-wide caldera, to analyze the deep processes potentially controlling new activity. In a paper published recently in Nature Communications, Chiodini et al lay out a model for magma degassing and decompression, which could explain the ongoing Campi Flegrei unrest. Read more...

Deep Mantle Chemistry Surprise: Carbon Content not Uniform
Even though carbon is one of the most abundant elements on Earth, it is actually very difficult to determine how much of it exists below the surface in Earth’s interior. Research by Deep Carbon Observatory scientists Marion Le Voyer and Erik Hauri (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA), Katherine Kelley (University of Rhode Island, USA), and Elizabeth Cottrell (Smithsonian Institution, USA) has doubled the world’s known quantities of mantle carbon. Their findings, based on analyses of crystals containing mantle magma samples, are published in Nature Communications. Read more...

Explaining Abnormal Sound Velocities of Carbonates in Earth’s Mantle with Extreme Physics and Chemistry
Earth’s interior is a dynamic mixture of minerals and crystals. Under the influence of extreme temperatures and pressures these mixtures move around, transporting deep reservoirs of carbon throughout the mantle. Understanding how different minerals respond to changes in temperature and pressure requires a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches, and is a focus of DCO’s Extreme Physics and Chemistry Community. In a new paper, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, DCO’s Afu Lin (University of Texas Austin, USA) and his graduate students use a new diamond anvil cell apparatus to probe the elastic properties of iron and magnesium carbonates at conditions of the lower mantle. Read more...

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2016 DCO Emerging Leader Awards
The Deep Carbon Observatory invites all members of the DCO community to submit nominations for the 2016 DCO Emerging Leader Awards. These awards, bestowed annually, honor DCO early career scientists for distinguished performance and unique potential as leaders of the deep carbon science community. Award recipients will receive a certificate and a slab of carbonated Oman ophiolite in a beautiful display box and will be highlighted on the DCO website. Deadline for nominations: 15 February 2017. Read more...

Make Your Voice Heard as DCO Plans for the Future
The Deep Carbon Observatory seeks your input as it plans for the future. Since its inception in 2009, DCO has grown from a small group of researchers into a large and vibrant international community of scientists, with approximately 1000 collaborators in 35 countries. In 2016, DCO launched Task Force 2020 (TF2020) to help plan for the future of deep carbon science. To obtain input and advice, TF2020 is distributing a questionnaire to all members of the DCO Science Network. We need your thoughts and suggestions to shape the future of deep carbon science and strongly encourage you to take the time to provide your feedback. Read more...

Goldschmidt 2017: Sessions of Special Interest to DCO
The 27th Goldschmidt Conference will take place at Le Palais des Congrès de Paris, Paris, France, from 13-18 August 2017. The abstract submission window is now open, and there are many deep carbon science sessions from which to choose. Abstract deadline: 1 April 2017. Read more...

The Carbon Mineral Challenge at the 2017 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show
The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is the largest show of its kind in the world, attracting thousands of mineral collectors, mineralogists, and everyday rock and mineral enthusiasts. From 9-12 February 2017, representatives of the Carbon Mineral Challenge will be staffing booth 104G in the Galleria of the Tucson Convention Center. At the booth, you can talk to project lead Daniel Hummer (Southern Illinois University, USA) and his colleagues about the eight new carbon minerals verified since the launch of the Challenge in 2015, collecting and identifying new mineral species, how to partner with mineralogy labs around the world, and where to start looking for new carbon minerals. Read more...

Deep Energy Gathers to Dig Deep and Plan for the Future
The Deep Energy community came together at the Luskin Conference Center at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) for two days, 13-14 January 2017, to plot a way towards DCO’s culmination in 2019. Led by Deep Energy Co-chairs Isabelle Daniel (Université de Lyon, France) and Ed Young (UCLA, USA), about 25 academic researchers, including students, came from around the world to present their recent advances on energy-related deep carbon processes and work together as a community to identify ways to address Deep Energy goals through 2019 and beyond. Read more...

The Oman Drilling Project Underway: Updates from the Field
The Oman Drilling Project, co-sponsored by the Deep Carbon Observatory, began operations on 18 December 2016. Diamond coring is taking place at four sites in the southeast end of the Samail Ophiolite complex during Phase 1, which will last approximately four months, finishing in late March or early April 2017. DCO collaborators Michelle Harris (Plymouth University, UK), and Jude Coggon (University of Southampton, UK) provided a few photos highlighting the progress of drilling work to date. Read more...

VIDEO: IODP Expedition 370: Exploring the T-Limit of the Deep Biosphere off Muroto
On 12 September 2016, an international team of 25 researchers boarded the drilling vessel (D/V) Chikyu, the world’s largest scientific research vessel, in Shimizu Port in Shizuoka, Japan, to begin a 60-day quest to determine the limits of life below the ocean’s floor. In this video, created by JAMSTEC, find out more about the team and their work as part of IODP Expedtion 370: T-Limit of the Deep Biosphere off Muroto. Watch now...

DCO Scientific Collections Browser Now Available in the DCO Data Portal
For many DCO scientists, collecting and storing field samples is a critical aspect of their work. Acquiring new physical samples can be expensive and difficult, especially in situations where sample collection requires large research expeditions to remote locations. By utilizing existing sample collections, scientists can save time, money, and effort that would otherwise be spent collecting samples from the field. To help scientists more easily access repository information, a recent DCO-funded project aimed to collect information on scientific collections in one easily accessible location. Project leader Beverly Blakeney DeJarnett (University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, USA) compiled over 100 international and US geologic and bio‐geologic scientific collections relevant to the DCO community. Using DeJarnett’s database, the DCO Data Science Team produced a searchable browser of scientific collections on the DCO Data Portal. 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. Application deadline: 1 February 2017

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. Abstract submission deadline: 15 February 2017

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

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. Technical session and short course proposal deadline: 1 February 2017

Honors and Awards

Bernard Marty, Reservoirs and Fluxes Scientific Steering Committee
Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, France
President of the European Association of Geochemistry, 2017-2018

Eiji Ohtani, DCO Executive Committee
Tohoku University, Japan
2017 Urey Award

Shuhei Ono, Deep Energy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
2017 Paul Gast Lectureship

Funding Opportunities

L'Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowships
The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship program annually awards five women postdoctoral scientists with grants of $60,000 each for their contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and commitments to serving as role models for younger generations. The program is the U.S. component of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Fellowships program. Celebrating its thirteenth year in the U.S., the For Women in Science program has awarded 65 postdoctoral women scientists over $3 million in grants. Deadline: 3 February 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 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

New Publications

View more papers in the DCO publications browser.

Magmas near the critical degassing pressure drive volcanic unrest towards a critical state
Giovanni Chiodini, Antonio Paonita, Alessandro Aiuppa, Antonio Costa, Stefano Caliro, Prospero De Martino, Valerio Acocella, and Jean Vandemeulebrouck
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms13712

Heterogeneity in mantle carbon content from CO2-undersaturated basalts
Marion Le Voyer, Katherine A. Kelley, Elizabeth Cottrell, and Erik H. Hauri
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms14062

Abnormal elasticity of single-crystal magnesiosiderite across the spin transition in Earth’s lower mantle
Suyu Fu, Jing Yang, and Jung-Fu Lin
Physical Review Letters doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.036402

Volatile contents of mafic-to-intermediate magmas at San Cristóbal volcano in Nicaragua
Phillippe Robidoux, Alessandro Aiuppa, Silvio G. Rotolo, Andrea L. Rizzo, Erik H. Hauri, and Maria L. Frezzotti
Lithos doi:10.1016/j.lithos.2016.12.002

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

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

Employment Opportunities

University of South Carolina: Graduate Student Position in Biogeochemistry of Lost City Hydrothermal Field
Funding for a PhD student is available starting Summer/Fall 2017 to work on an NSF-funded project in Isotope Biogeochemistry lab at the University of South Carolina. The goals of the project are to explore how microbes survive and thrive in a warm, high pH serpentinization system, to investigate the fate of deep sea organic matter as it passes through the rocky subsurface, and to determine whether small organic molecules are formed abiotically. This research has implications for the earliest development of life on Earth and other planets, and on Earth’s carbon cycle. Field work includes a 22-day oceanographic expedition with the remotely operated vehicle Jason to the Lost City Hydrothermal Field. For additional information, please visit our website. Interested students can send a letter of interest, CV, and unofficial transcripts to slang [at] geol [dot] sc [dot] edu (Dr. Susan Lang) and/or submit applications through the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment. Preference will be given to submission prior to 27 January 2017 but the position will remain open until filled.

Postdoctoral Position at Scripps Institution of Oceanography Fluids and Volatiles Laboratory, USA
The lab is equipped with two noble gases mass spectrometers: a MAP215 and a VG5440 modified multi-collector spectrometer (both have undergone electronics upgrades), and associated extraction systems and preparation lines. Other instrumentation at Scripps/UC San Diego, including IRMS, is available. Our primary research activities involve targeting isotopes of He-Ne-Ar-CO2-N2 in basalts, xenoliths, geothermal fluids, groundwaters, etc. from a variety of tectonic environments with research directed at mantle plumes, subduction zones, earthquake precursory activity, volatile fluxes, and more. The position is primarily laboratory-based but opportunities will exist for related field studies. The position is available from 1 February 2017.

NSF Section Head, Integrated Activities Section
The Head of the Integrated Activities Section serves as a member of the Division leadership team and as the Directorate’s principal spokesperson for its cross-cutting activities. The incumbent is responsible for the overall planning, management and commitment of budgeted funds for the section, which includes the following programs: Education and Human Resources, Instrumentation and Facilities (including Geoinformatics), and cross-cutting research programs Integrated Earth Systems, EarthScope, GeoPRISMS, Critical Zone Observatories, and Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change. This section also includes the division’s communications and analysis group. The incumbent guides the Section in formulating and implementing its research objectives and manages its administrative, fiscal and personnel aspects. The responsibilities of the Head of the Integrated Activities Section include the coordination of activities with the division’s Disciplinary Programs Section and other relevant organizations within the Foundation, other Federal agencies, community organizations and international partners. Application deadline: 24 February 2017

Research Fellow in Experimental Petrology at the University of St Andrews, Scotland
Applications are invited for a Research Fellow position in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews to work on the NERC-funded project “The Deep Nitrogen Cycle”. The overarching objective is to derive fundamental constraints on the partitioning of nitrogen under mantle-like pressure, temperature, and redox conditions with a focus on the formation and evolution of Earth’s atmosphere. The successful candidate will take the responsibility of undertaking the project in collaboration with researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, and Milan – but will be based at St Andrews. The successful candidate will be responsible for (i) continuing the standardization work for precise determinations of nitrogen abundances in silicates by secondary ionization mass spectrometry and electron microprobe (ii) performing partitioning experiments to constrain the equilibrium partition coefficient for N/K using a piston cylinder (St Andrews) and multi-anvil press (Edinburgh), (iii) performing compressibility experiments using a diamond anvil cell at Cambridge and at synchrotron facilities. Application deadline: 28 February 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

23 January 2017: Researchers look for life in ancient deep mine water
By Alan S. Hale for Timmins Press
Researchers from the University of Toronto have returned to Timmins this week to continue studying pockets of water discovered inside the Kidd Creek Mine which are 2.7 billion years old...

13 January 2017: Deep mantle chemistry surprise: Carbon content not uniform
Even though carbon is one of the most abundant elements on Earth, it is actually very difficult to determine how much of it exists below the surface in Earth's interior...

12 January 2017: Researchers believe they have found the ‘missing element’ of Earth’s core
By Ada Carr for The Weather Channel
As a solution to one of the deepest secrets about our planet, Japanese scientists say silicon is likely the mystery element in the Earth's inner core...

11 January 2017: Scientists discover Earths ‘missing element’ that lay hidden in planet’s fiery core
By Margi Murphy for The Sun
The mystery material makes up a significant proportion of our planet’s core, after iron and nickel – but has left the experts scratching their heads for decades...

10 January 2017: New candidate for 'missing element' in Earth's core
By Rebecca Morelle for BBC News
Japanese scientists believe they have established the identity of a "missing element" within the Earth's core...

4 January 2017: The never-ending quest to rewrite the tree of life
By Carrie Arnold for NOVA Next
The bottom of the ocean is one of the most mysterious places on the planet, but microbiologist Karen Lloyd of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, wanted to go deeper than that...

21 December 2016: A supervolcano caused the largest eruption in European history. Now it’s stirring again.
By Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post
The Italian name for the volcano — Campi Flegrei, or “burning fields” — is apt. Its caldera, the collapsed top of the ancient volcano that formed when the magma within erupted, is almost 8 miles wide...

20 December 2016: Volcano near Naples showing signs of reawakening
The Guardian
The slumbering Campi Flegrei volcano under the Italian city of Naples shows signs of reawakening and may be nearing a critical pressure point, according to a new study...

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.