Elements: Catastrophic Events and Carbon

Catastrophic events in Earth’s history and their impact on the carbon cycle

Carbon is one of the most important elements on Earth. It is the basis of all life on the planet, is stored and mobilized throughout the Earth from core to crust and is the basis of the energy sources that are so important to human civilization. This issue of Elements will explore the origins of carbon on Earth, the long-term carbon cycle, catastrophic and large-scale perturbations to Earth’s carbon cycle such as large igneous provinces and bolide impacts, carbon’s role in mass extinctions, and icehouse-greenhouse climate transitions in deep-time. Deciphering the complex and often faint signals of distant carbon catastrophes requires a multidisciplinary effort and the most innovative analytical technology. This thematic collection comes at an important time in which carbon fluxes on Earth are changing rapidly. It is crucial that society understands the way in which the deep C-cycle on Earth works, to secure a sustainable future. Publication is set for October 2019.

The topics to be covered include:

  • The role of deep-carbon in deep-time, Celina Suarez (University of Arkansas), Marie Edmonds, (Cambridge University), and Adrian Jones (University College London) 
  • The origins of Earth’s carbon, Sami Mikhail (University of St Andrews) and Evelyn Furi (Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques (CRPG))
  • Large and giant bolide impacts and their environmental consequences, Balz S. Kamber (Queensland University of Technology Trinity University) and Joseph A. Petrus (University of Melbourne)
  • Deep carbon and the life cycle of Large Igneous Provinces, Ben Black (City University of New York) and Sally Gibson (Cambridge University)
  • Carbon cycle perturbations and mass extinctions, Paul Wignall (University of Leeds), Martin Schobben (University of Utrecht) and Bas van de Schootbrugge (University of Utrecht)
  • Earth outgassing and icehouse-greenhouse climates in deep time, Ryan N. McKenzie (University of Hong Kong) and Hehe Jiang (Rice University)


  • Marie Edmonds
    Marie Edmonds University of Cambridge, UK
    Marie Edmonds
    Marie Edmonds
    University of Cambridge, UK

    Dr. Marie Edmonds, a reader in Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, is responsible for overall scientific and intellectual oversight of DCO's synthesis and integration activities. She is a mid-career researcher who has built a successful group focused on understanding volatile cycling in the solid Earth. She has a number of leadership roles within the Natural Environment Research Council (the United Kingdom’s primary funding agency) and the Geological Society of London. In addition to serving on DCO’s Executive Committee, Edmonds chairs DCO’s Synthesis Group 2019 and has served as co-chair of the Reservoirs and Fluxes community since November 2014.

  • Celina Suarez
    Celina Suarez University of Arkansas, USA
    Celina Suarez
    Celina Suarez
    University of Arkansas, USA

    Dr. Celina Suarez is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas. Her research involves characterizing the occurrence of large-scale fluxes of carbon into the atmosphere in deep time by identifying the paleoclimatic hallmarks of eruptions and associating them with the occurrence of extinction on land.  She is a member of DCO’s Reservoirs and Fluxes community, served as a project leader for the synthesis workshop on “Catastrophic Perturbations and the Deep Carbon Cycle,” and is editor of an upcoming special issue of Elements.  Suarez was one of the first recipients of the American Geosciences Institute/DCO’s Diversity Awards in 2016 to support her work on the end Triassic extinction event.

  • Dr. Adrian Jones
    Adrian Jones University College London, UK
    Dr. Adrian Jones
    Adrian Jones
    University College London, UK

    Dr. Adrian Jones is a reader in petrology at the University College London, where he teaches igneous petrology and works on shocked materials. His laboratory uses high-pressure solid-state multi-anvil presses to quantify materials and melting behavior in Earth’s mantle and the transport of materials to sites of volcanic eruptions. He is particularly interested in the deep carbon cycle—where deep carbon is stored and how it is entrained back to the surface in carbon-rich magmas. Jones was a founding member of the Deep Carbon Observatory and continues to serve on its Executive Committee, as well as a member of Synthesis Group 2019. 

Header image: Mount Vesuvius by night, erupting with smoke, fire, and lava, with houses on the Bay of Naples. Etching with engraving by Page. The image is CC via Wellcome Library, London.

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