One of several unmanned aerial vehicles being deployed as part of the DCO ABOVE expedition. Read more about the expedition
, in which an international team of scientists is collaborating with local volcano observatories to investigate volcanic emissions in Papua New Guinea.
Letter from the Director
A DCO expedition to Papua New Guinea is investigating carbon outgassing from highly inaccessible volcanoes known to be strong emission sources. The DCO ABOVE (Aerial-based Observations of Volcanic Emissions) expedition, led by Emma Liu, is using advanced drone technologies to make detailed measurements in these extreme environments.
Speaking of extreme environments, DCO scientists Donald Pan, Yuki Morono, Fumio Inagaki, and Ken Takai developed an improved method for extracting viruses from sediment, which has enabled them to detect far more viruses in the subseafloor than previously reported.
DCO scientists Jeanine Ash, Tina Treude, Issaku Kohl, Edward Young, and Barbara Sherwood Lollar used the Panorama Mass Spectrometer to track the activity of anaerobic methanotrophs by measuring 12CH2D2 and 13CH3D in methane.
As reported in a paper in Nature, DCO scientists Chris Tulk, Adam Makhluf, Craig Manning, and Dennis Klug conducted neutron scattering experiments that confirmed the postulation that the formation of high-density amorphous ice is a kinetic event and not a thermodynamic one.
DCO colleague Barbara Sherwood Lollar and fellow program director Jack Mustard received a $3 million grant over five years to support a new initiative entitled Earth 4D – Subsurface Science and Exploration.
Several Mineralogical Society of America award nominations are due on 1 June (MSA Award, Roebling Medal, Dana Medal, MSA Distinguished Public Service Medal, and Fellowship in the Mineralogical Society of America) and European Geosciences Union award nominations are due 15 June. The Goldschmidt early registration deadline is 18 June and the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting abstract submission deadline is 25 June.
Congratulations to Sabin Zahirovic for winning the A. H. Voisey Medal, Fumio Inagaki for being awarded the Copernicus Medal, and Barbara Sherwood Lollar for receiving the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.
Looking to the future, we encourage you to nominate early career scientists for DCO Emerging Leader Awards.
Craig Schiffries, DCO Director
Carnegie Institution for Science, Geophysical Laboratory
Washington DC, USA
Amorphous Ice is an Experimental Side Effect of an Interrupted Crystal Transition
Virtually all the ice that we encounter on Earth’s surface, from snowflakes to ice cubes, has a hexagonal crystal structure called ice Ih. But this is not the only form that ice can take. By altering temperature and pressure conditions in the lab, scientists have discovered at least 18 different crystal structures of ice. Puzzlingly, at certain conditions, amorphous solid ice can form without a crystal structure, leading scientists to suggest this form was somehow related to supercooled liquid water. For about 30 years, scientists have attempted to explain how glassy and pressure-induced amorphous ice forms are thermodynamically related to supercooled water. In a new paper in Nature, DCO Extreme Physics and Chemistry Community members Chris Tulk (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA), Adam Makhluf, Craig Manning (both at University of California Los Angeles, USA), and Dennis Klug (National Research Council of Canada) show that amorphous ice is an experimental side effect of increasing the pressure too fast on a regular ice sample. The amorphous form occurs when ice I experiences a “kinetically arrested transition” – and essentially gets stuck – along the path to a more tightly packed crystal structure. Increasing the pressure more slowly leads to a progression of different equilibrium crystal structures. While such amorphous forms of ice don’t exist naturally on Earth, the study’s findings can help us understand the forms that water and other volatile compounds, such as carbon dioxide, might take on elsewhere in the solar system. Read more...
Many More Viruses Revealed Below the Seafloor
Despite their bad reputation for being agents of disease, viruses play an important ecological role. By bursting open cells and killing off microorganisms, they help cycle nutrients through the environment. Viruses occur wherever there are cells, but it can be tricky to study them, especially in soil and marine sediments, where they stick to the surrounding grains of minerals. Now there is a better way to extract viruses from sediments, thanks to research by DCO Deep Life Community members Donald Pan, Yuki Morono, Fumio Inagaki, and Ken Takai (all at Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science & Technology (JAMSTEC), Japan). Using the new protocol, the researchers extracted hundreds of times more virus particles from a range of subseafloor sediments, compared to existing methods. The findings suggest that we have vastly underestimated the number of viruses in deep sediments and their contribution to subseafloor carbon. The researchers describe the improved method in a new paper in Frontiers in Microbiology. Read more...
New Approach to Solving Subduction Zone ‘Headaches’
Subduction zones, where one tectonic plate sinks beneath another, are the main points of entry for surface carbon moving into the deep subsurface. But the system has leaks: some carbon returns to the atmosphere through volcanic and hydrothermal activity. And when an oceanic plate plunges into the mantle, the entire seafloor doesn’t sink smoothly into a marine trench. Sometimes layers of sediments get scraped off like frosting from a birthday cake. In many parts of the world, variations in the amount of sediment that actually enter the subduction zone make it difficult to quantify exactly what fraction of the subducted carbon cycles back to the atmosphere through volcanoes. DCO Reservoirs and Fluxes Community members Brian House (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA), Gray Bebout (Lehigh University, USA), and David Hilton (deceased, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA) took a novel approach to estimate carbon input at the Sunda margin, a subduction zone along the south and west coast of the Indonesian archipelago. They calculate that a much smaller amount of sediment carbon sinks into the subduction zone than previously thought, which is insufficient to balance the amount of carbon returning to the surface through volcanoes. The researchers suggest that carbonate from the underlying oceanic crust could be one of the missing carbon sources. This new approach could be used to clarify how much carbon enters other modern subduction zones and to make better global estimates of the carbon exchange between the surface and deep Earth. The researchers report their findings in a new paper in Geology. Read more...
A New Way to Keep Tabs on Methane-Eating Microbes
The amount of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – that escapes into the atmosphere would be far higher if it weren’t for the activities of a poorly understood group of microbes called anaerobic methanotrophs. These unusual organisms live in no- or low-oxygen locations, like marine and freshwater sediments, and gain energy by taking in copious amounts of methane and turning the gas into inorganic carbon compounds. Scientists think that anaerobic methanotrophs go a long way toward counteracting methane production from other microbes and chemical processes, but have struggled to accurately measure their influence. Now, researchers have figured out a new way to track the activities of anaerobic methanotrophs. DCO researchers Jeanine Ash (Rice University, formerly of University of California, Los Angeles, USA), Tina Treude, Issaku Kohl, Edward Young (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA), and Barbara Sherwood Lollar (University of Toronto, Canada), with European collaborators Matthias Egger, Barry Cragg, R. John Parkes, and Caroline Slomp, detected methane consumption in Baltic Sea sediments by measuring clumped isotopologues. These rare molecules of methane have two isotopes – atoms with a different number of neutrons in the nucleus. Measurements of clumped isotopologues can give hints to a methane sample’s source and what might be eating it. This novel approach, described in a new paper in Geochemical Perspectives Letters may help scientists to put a number on how much methane anaerobic methanotrophs consume. Read more...
New Book Focuses on Impact and Insight from Volcanic Plumes
DCO Reservoirs and Fluxes Community member Giuseppe Salerno (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy) with colleagues Pasquale Sellitto (Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques and University of Paris-Est Créteil, France) and Andrew McGonigle (University of Sheffield, UK) have edited a new book, “Volcanic Plumes: Impacts on the Atmosphere and Insights into Volcanic Processes.” The volume covers recent research on volcanic plumes, giving a wide overview of volcanic degassing for volcanologists, geologists, and atmospheric scientists. Read more...
Earth 4D to Explore Water, Life and Space, Through Time
When scientists consider other planetary bodies, they tend to take a holistic approach that encompasses the whole package, from the atmosphere to the core. Now, a group of researchers aim to study Earth and its history in the same way, through a new initiative entitled Earth 4D – Subsurface Science and Exploration. The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) has awarded a five-year, $3 million grant to fund Earth 4D. DCO Deep Energy Community member Barbara Sherwood Lollar (University of Toronto, Canada) and fellow program director Jack Mustard (Brown University, USA) proposed the initiative along with a dozen colleagues and collaborators, which will orchestrate new investigations into the interactions between the surface and subsurface on Earth. Ultimately, the researchers want to understand the processes affecting the three-dimensional distribution of water and life within the planet, the controlling features of the subsurface architecture, and how the subsurface environment has evolved over the fourth dimension, time. What they discover about Earth will inform the investigation of planetary processes and the search for life on Mars and other potentially habitable planets. Read more...
DCO ABOVE Expedition: Updates from the Field
29 May 2019: Manam: Deep Carbon science reaches new heights!
The DCO ABOVE team has returned from eight days of field measurements on the remote volcanic island of Manam, and what an experience it has been! Our search for the elusive carbon flux and isotopic composition of this strongly degassing volcano in Papua New Guinea led us on a journey of discovery through the highs and lows of experimental field research, the camaraderie of team problem-solving under extreme conditions, and the complete physical and emotional immersion in the unique tribal culture of the Manam islanders for whom this active volcano is home. Read more...
23 May 2019: Rabaul and Tavurvur
With earthquakes and tribal fighting featuring in our first week or so in Papua New Guinea, it could be said that science hasn’t always been the first thing on everyone’s mind...but we’ve also seen very successful collaborations between different teams from day one and many flights and daily ground sampling of the fumaroles at Tavurvur. Read more...
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2019 DCO Emerging Leader Awards
The Deep Carbon Observatory invites all members of the DCO community to submit nominations for the 2019 DCO Emerging Leader Awards. These awards, which have been bestowed annually since 2015, 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. Read more...
Second Geobiology Society Conference, Banff, Canada, 9-13 June 2019
A major goal of this conference is to facilitate bridge-building across disparate fields within geobiology, particularly from the geological and biological ends of the spectrum.
Geobiology 2019, Owens Valley, Caltech, Wrigley Marine Institute, California, USA, 10 June - 14 July 2019
Now entering its 16th year, the International Geobiology Course is an intense, multidisciplinary summer course exploring the coevolution of Earth and its biosphere, with an emphasis on how microbial processes affect the environment and leave imprints on the rock record.
CIDER 2019 Summer Program: Volcanoes, University of California, Berkeley, USA, 17 June-12 July 2019
The CIDER (Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research) 2019 summer program focuses on volcano science. CIDER's collaborative and interdisciplinary nature provides an ideal venue to expose students and postdocs to the rich developments in volcano science, to help synthesize ongoing work in volcanic systems, and to help develop new research teams and research directions.
ICDP Training Course on Downhole Measurements, Kuopio/Outokumpu, Finland, 24-28 June 2019
The International Continental Scientific Drilling Program training course will encompass the different technical and scientific aspects of downhole measurements and their analysis in scientific drilling, including borehole logging under various conditions and scientific demands, seismic borehole measurements, downhole hydraulic tests, fluid logging and sampling, and fibre optical methods.
AbSciCon 2019, Bellevue, WA, USA, 24-28 June 2019
AbSciCon 2019 is the next in a series of conferences organized by the astrobiology community. The theme for AbSciCon 2019 is “Understanding and Enabling the Search for Life on Worlds Near and Far.”
Goldschmidt 2019, Barcelona, Spain, 18-23 August 2019
Goldschmidt is the foremost annual, international conference on geochemistry and related subjects, organized by the European Association of Geochemistry and the Geochemical Society. Early registration deadline: 18 June 2019
YES Congress 2019, Berlin, Germany, 9-13 September 2019
The YES (Young Earth Scientists) Network is an international association of young and early career Earth scientists. The Congress focuses on climate, environmental, and geoscience challenges facing today’s society, as well as career and academic pathway challenges faced by early career geoscientists.
2019 GSA Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, USA, 22-25 September 2019
The annual meeting of the Geological Society of America will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, and includes opportunities for local field experiences. Abstract submission deadline: 25 June 2019
Fourth Microbial Single Cell Genomics Workshop, Single Cell Genomics Center, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Boothbay Harbor, ME, USA, 22-26 September 2019
This workshop will explore microbial single cell genomics and related areas, such as bioinformatics, single cell RNA-sequencing of multicellular organisms, single cell physiology, probing, and imaging.
Fifth International Training School on Convective and Volcanic Clouds: Detection, Monitoring, and Modeling, Nicolosi, Italy, 2-10 October 2019
The purpose of the school is to train students in techniques for the detection, monitoring, and modeling of convective and volcanic clouds, state-of-the-art instruments and satellite missions, and the type of studies needed for supporting policymakers, early warning systems, and aviation safety. Registration deadline: 10 August 2019
Deep Carbon 2019: Launching the next decade of deep carbon science, Washington, DC, USA, 24-26 October 2019
Deep Carbon 2019 will highlight DCO’s many scientific advances, representing the culmination of ten years of deep carbon research, exploration, and discovery.
2019 AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, 9-13 December 2019
As the American Geophysical Union marks its centennial in 2019, the Fall Meeting returns to San Francisco, the home of the Fall Meeting for more than 40 years.
Honors and Awards
Sabin Zahirovic, Modeling and Visualization
University of Sydney, Australia
A. H. Voisey Medal
Fumio Inagaki, Deep Life
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
2019 Copernicus Medal
Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Deep Energy
University of Toronto, Canada
Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering
Award Nomination Deadlines
2020 Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) Award
The MSA Award is intended to recognize outstanding published contributions to the science of mineralogy by relatively young individuals or individuals near the beginning of their professional careers. Nomination deadline: 1 June 2019
2020 Roebling Medal
The Roebling Medal is the highest award of the MSA for scientific eminence as represented primarily by scientific publication of outstanding original research in mineralogy. Nomination deadline: 1 June 2019
2020 Dana Medal
The Dana Medal, awarded by the MSA, is intended to recognize sustained outstanding scientific contributions through original research in the mineralogical sciences by an individual in the midst of his or her career. Service to the mineralogical sciences, administrative accomplishments, and teaching are considered of secondary merit. Nomination deadline: 1 June 2019
2020 MSA Distinguished Public Service Medal
The Distinguished Public Service Medal is awarded by the MSA Council to individuals or organizations who have made important contributions to furthering the vitality of the geological sciences, especially, but not necessarily, in the fields of mineralogy, geochemistry, petrology, and crystallography. Nomination deadline: 1 June 2019
2020 Fellowship in the Mineralogical Society of America
Members who have contributed significantly to the advancement of mineralogy, crystallography, geochemistry, petrology, or allied sciences and whose scientific contribution utilized mineralogical studies or data, may be designated as Fellows upon proper accreditation by the Committee on Nomination for Fellows and election by the Council. Recipients of the Roebling Medal and MSA Award automatically become Fellows. Nomination deadline: 1 June 2019
2020 EGU Awards and Medals
The European Geosciences Union (EGU) awards and medals program recognizes every year eminent scientists for their outstanding research contribution in the Earth, planetary, and space sciences, and identifies the awardees as role models for the next generation of early career scientists to foster geosciences research. Nomination deadline: 15 June 2019
Simons Postdoctoral Fellowships in Marine Microbial Ecology
The Simons Foundation invites applications for postdoctoral fellowships to support research on fundamental problems in marine microbial ecology. The foundation is particularly interested in applicants with training in different fields who want to apply their experience to understanding the role of microorganisms in shaping ocean processes, and vice versa, as well as applicants with experience in modeling or theory development. While these cross-disciplinary applicants will receive particular attention, applicants already involved in ocean research are also encouraged to apply. The foundation anticipates awarding five fellowships in 2019. Application deadline: 14 June 2019
Deep Life Cultivation Internship Program
DCO's Deep Life Community (DLC) 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 the deep subsurface. 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 DLC’s field missions.
C-DEBI: Rolling Call for Research Exchange Proposals
The Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) facilitates scientific coordination and collaborations by supporting student, postdoctoral, and faculty exchanges to build, educate, and train the deep subseafloor biosphere community. We award small research exchange grants for Center participants. These grants may be used to support research, travel for presenting C-DEBI research at meetings, or travel exchanges to other partner institutions or institutions that have new tools and techniques that can be applied to C-DEBI research. We anticipate ~10 awards of $500-5,000 with additional matched funds to be granted annually.
View more employment opportunities on the DCO website.
Postdoctoral Fellow in Microbial Ecology - Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV, USA
The Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas, NV invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in Microbial Ecology. This innovative research aims to tie genomic data to microbial function by examining rates of environmental processes at the level of the individual cell. Application deadline: 6 June 2019
“Fellowship BE-FOR-ERC” - Call for selections for conferral of five postdoctoral fellowships - Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
The BE-FOR-ERC Call is part of the “SAPIExcellence” Program, an initiative fielded by Sapienza University to attract the best and most promising researchers by promoting their participation in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and European Research Council funding schemes. Application deadline: 14 June 2019
Postdoc: Organic Geochemistry - Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
A position for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Organic Geochemistry is available in the laboratory of Dr. Jill McDermott at the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States). The postdoc will have the opportunity to work on a collaborative project funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Application deadline: 15 June 2019
Laboratory Technician in High P-T Science - Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC, USA
The Geophysical Laboratory (GL) of the Carnegie Institution of Washington seeks a highly-qualified applicant for a Laboratory Technician position with expertise in high pressure-temperature science (HPT). The principal role of the HPT-technician is to support and maintain the wide-ranging HPT experimental facilities at GL. Application deadline: 31 June 2019
PhD position for the IMPACT ERC project - CNRS, Lyon, France
The position is to study the behavior of major rock-forming minerals during the Giant Impact. The aim of the doctoral work is to determine the physical properties and the chemical behavior of the corresponding mineral melts at conditions characteristic to the Giant Impact. For this, the successful candidate will use ab initio molecular-dynamics simulations. Open until filled.
Postdoctoral position in the IMPACT ERC project - CNRS, Lyon, France
The position is to study the supercritical state and the liquid – vapor equilibria of a variety of multicomponent silicate and oxide systems using large-scale ab initio simulations. The successful candidate will explore the role particular volatile systems play in the chemical equilibria of complex natural systems, their behavior in the magma ocean, and possible escape pathways. Open until filled.
DCO in the News
24 May 2019 Ice, ice, maybe: water physics thrown into doubt
By Phil Dooley for Cosmos
Scientists may have smashed a theory about ice – throwing doubt on the idea that under the right conditions it can morph into a strange disordered solid form similar to glass...
22 May 2019 Scientists create tectonic map of 'Game of Thrones' world
By David Bressan for Forbes
The successful TV series Game of Thrones (or GoT), based on the novels by Fantasy- and Science-Fiction author George R.R. Martin, featured a lot of geology...
22 May 2019 Unexpected observation of ice at low temperature, high pressure questions water theory
Through an experiment designed to create a super-cold state of water, scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutron scattering to discover a pathway to the unexpected formation of dense, crystalline phases of ice thought to exist beyond Earth's limits...
20 May 2019 We made a moving tectonic map of the Game of Thrones landscape
By Sabin Zahirovic and Jo Condon for The Conversation
Scientists are among the millions of die-hard Game of Thrones fans digesting the show’s finale today...
8 May 2019 Zombieland: The vast world of hidden microbes miles beneath your feet
By Graham Lawton for New Scientist
No matter how deep we dig, life has always found a way to survive. The remarkable story of these impossible microbes can teach us about how life evolved...
2 May 2019 Fire-breathing mountain fueled by mysterious deep-Earth methane production
By Brandon Spektor for Live Science
Nine out of 10 scientists agree, mountains should not breathe fire. Despite this, a mountain in southern Turkey has been spewing flames steadily for at least 2,000 years...
1 May 2019 Gas that makes a mountain breathe fire is turning up around the world
By JoAnna Klein for The New York Times
A group of scientists have found unusual types of methane escaping from the deep earth in hundreds of locations...
1 May 2019 Investigación con sello tico: microorganismos en interior terrestre reducen emisiones de CO2
By Pablo Rojas for CR Hoy
Una investigación realizada por científicos costarricenses, publicada por la revista Nature, concluye que los microorganismos reducen emisiones de deióxido carbono (CO2) desde el interior de la tierra...
30 April 2019 Watch 60 years of eruptions shake the planet in this amazing animation
By Robin Andrews for Forbes
After seeing how many people were interested in the 100-year animation of the world’s earthquakes, it only seemed fair that I’d point the way to a volcanological equivalent...
29 April 2019 I microrganismi influenzano geologia e clima
Una ricerca Cnr-Irbim e Università Federico II di Napoli indaga i meccanismi di sequestro della CO2...
Learn more about DCO's Scientific Communities
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 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.
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.
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