RY2015-1 Project Update uri icon

DCO ID 11121/9267-8876-9262-3578-CC

Date Submitted

  • 2015-09-23

Update Text

  • Contents

    1. Introduction

    2. Support for DCO Executive Committee

    3. Organizing DCO Meetings and Events

    4. Launch of New Initiatives

    5. Publication of Carbon in Earth

    6. Revision of DCO Decadal Goals and Publication of DCO Midterm Scientific Report

    7. Building an International Community, Corporate Engagement, and Fundraising

    8. Other Activities

    9. Appendices


    1. Introduction

    Alfred P. Sloan Grant 2012-6-01, to Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Robert M. Hazen and co-PI Dr. Craig M. Schiffries, supported the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) Secretariat from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2014. The Secretariat, located at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW), coordinates the DCO program within the framework of the DCO Decadal Goals. As the primary program manager, the Secretariat oversees the DCO governance structure, which features an Executive Committee and four Scientific Steering Committees, one for each of DCO’s four Science Communities (Reservoirs & Fluxes, Deep Life, Deep Energy, and Extreme Physics & Chemistry).

    This grant supported approximately two years of DCO Secretariat operations, four Executive Committee meetings, the first DCO International Science Meeting, various workshops, international and corporate networking meetings and opportunities, highly leveraged scientific opportunities, continued support for the four DCO scientific communities, supplementary support to the first DCO Summer School, some instrument development, and graduate student/post doctoral support. 

    Between 2012 and 2015, the DCO Secretariat had three full-time staff including: Dr. Craig Schiffries, DCO Director; Andrea Mangum, DCO Program Manager; and a Science Program Assistant. Dr. Robert Hazen, DCO Executive Director/CIW Senior Scientist, and Dr. Russell Hemley, DCO Co-Executive Director/CIW Senior Scientist, spent significant time working on DCO activities. The GL/CIW business office and administrative staff also provided support. 


    2. Support for DCO Executive Committee

    The Secretariat provides significant support for the DCO Executive Committee and leaders of the Scientific Steering Committees. These efforts include organizing two-day Executive Committee meetings approximately twice each year, dinner meetings of opportunity at major international conferences, and monthly teleconferences. For each of these events, the Secretariat creates agendas, briefing books, and action items. In addition to distributing these documents before and/or after an event, as appropriate, the Secretariat maintains an online archive where all of these documents are catalogued and uploaded. This archive is available on the Executive Committee group page of the DCO Community Portal and can be accessed by all Executive Committee members. The Executive Committee archive provides an extensive and detailed record of DCO activities with ease of access for users.

    DCO Executive Committee Meetings

    DCO Executive Committee meetings provide DCO program oversight, coordination, and leadership. Other purposes of these meetings include building new DCO scientific collaborations and partnerships worldwide, providing opportunities for strategic discussions, nurturing DCO leveraging opportunities, and advancing global knowledge of the deep carbon cycle. In these efforts, DCO Executive Committee meetings have been extraordinarily successful. Several examples are discussed below. 

    The DCO Executive Committee meeting at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin and the GeoForschungsZentrum in Potsdam, Germany on 20-21 September 2012 allowed DCO leaders to interact with the leaders of the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) and discuss potential coordination on research initiatives of mutual interest including but not limited to the Oman Drilling Project and a workshop on the Multi-well Deep Underground Laboratory (MW-DUL) in the Songliao Basin, China. Leaders in the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) have also been included in DCO meetings, including the Berlin meeting, to identify areas for coordination and synergy.

    The DCO Executive Committee meeting at the Royal Society in London on 19-20 September 2013 facilitated discussions with organizers of the Road Map for Earth Science in Europe and the UK’s National Environmental Research Council (NERC). Chris Ballentine (University of Oxford, England) presented details of Europe’s Roadmap for Earth Sciences, which emphasizes several areas of research of interest to deep carbon scientists. Ballentine also discussed the European Commission’s Horizon 2020, which focuses on integrating and opening scientific infrastructure throughout Europe and now supports research conducted by several DCO colleagues. Tamsin Mather (University of Oxford, England) discussed the recently approved NERC Theme Action Plan entitled “Volatiles, Geodynamics and Solid Earth Controls on the Habitable Planet,” which was developed with input from DCO colleagues and now provides £8 million over five years for DCO-related research in the UK. 

    The DCO Executive Committee meetings at the University of California, Los Angeles, California Institute of Technology, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory on 1-2 October 2014 facilitated growing collaboration with DCO, including the potential for NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) satellite to measure volcanic gas emissions from space, and new opportunities for integrating satellite measurements with DCO’s ground-based measurements. 

    Two other DCO Executive Committee meetings were held in Washington, DC. The meeting on 5 March 2013 at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences was convened in conjunction with the first DCO International Science Meeting, which included broad U.S. outreach (discussed below). A meeting on 13-14 March 2014 at the Carnegie Institution of Washington headquarters emphasized discussions about scientific opportunities— especially opportunities that involve multiple DCO Science Communities—and the vision for DCO’s final five years.

    DCO Executive Committee Teleconferences

    The DCO Secretariat organizes monthly DCO Executive Committee teleconferences to conduct routine business, which allow the in-person Executive Committee meetings to focus on scientific opportunities, international community building, and scientific collaborations and partnerships. Executive Committee teleconferences are used to review internal affairs and program needs, to plan upcoming meetings, to maintain DCO momentum through action items, to suggest future agenda items, and to distribute key information items such as final proposals. In addition, the Secretariat uses these teleconferences to coordinate Executive Committee review, revision, and endorsement of draft proposals before they are submitted to the Sloan Foundation. 


    3. Organizing DCO Meetings & Events

    A key role of the DCO Secretariat is to convene DCO scientific meetings and events that often require considerable logistical planning. Over one quarter of Sloan’s funding to the Secretariat supports the biennial DCO International Science Meeting, DCO Executive Committee meetings, DCO representative travel, and numerous leveraged workshop opportunities to promote relevant science.

    DCO International Science Meeting

    More than 160 scientists from around the world converged on the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC for the first DCO International Science Meeting on 3-5 March 2013. The meeting included special sessions where representatives of the DCO Science Communities could focus on community interests as well as cross-community sessions on field studies, instrumentation, DCO engagement and data science. The meeting featured the launch of Carbon in Earth, perspectives from leaders of U.S. science institutions—including Frank Press, former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Science Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and Marcia McNutt, former director of the U.S. Geological Survey—and a broad range of keynote presentations on groundbreaking deep carbon science. 

    First DCO Summer School

    The Secretariat played a key role in organizing the first DCO Summer School at Yellowstone National Park on 13-18 July 2014. The purpose of the Summer School was to introduce students, postdocs, and/or early-career researchers interested in deep carbon science to the interdisciplinary concepts that are the cornerstone of DCO’s approach to understanding Earth. The Summer School included six days of interaction through an opening icebreaker, two field trips, a student poster session, discussions, working sessions, and lectures from twelve international and interdisciplinary faculty members. Thirty-seven students attended from 34 institutions in 15 different countries. 

    The course content was built around the active role of deep carbon in the natural field environment at Yellowstone. This stunning location provides access to deep carbon through degassing of deep volatiles at a volcano, through surface and crustal fluid interactions, through exploration of extreme biological habitats, and through the geological evolution of the Earth’s habitable surface above a deep mantle plume through time. The course introduced the fundamental broad themes of the DCO and bridged conventional science disciplines in exploring the new exciting deep carbon science—including how to share and use interdisciplinary data.

    Participants were encouraged to express and reevaluate their own science skills at the summer school, through planned daily activities and group interactions including seminars, presentations, mini-breakout sessions, and field data acquisition. Participants also developed communication and outreach skills guided by expertise from a mixture of DCO experts and researchers. Many participants reported that their Summer School experience left them favorably inclined to participate in future DCO activities. The Summer School was supported by a Sloan officer grant to University College London and nearly $66,000 from the DCO Secretariat.

    Other DCO Meetings and Events

    Between 2012 and 2015, the DCO Secretariat organized or co-sponsored more than 50 scientific meetings and workshops. These include smaller DCO scientific sessions, meetings, and events at international scientific meetings. For example, the DCO Secretariat organized a Pardee Keynote Symposium and Town Hall Meeting at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in 2012, and a DCO Short Course on Deep Carbon through Deep Time at the GSA meeting in 2014. In addition, the Secretariat coordinated a major DCO presence at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in 2012, 2013, and 2014, the Goldschmidt Conference in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and several Gordon Research Conferences, as well as other relevant meetings and workshops in Russia, Japan, France, Italy, Chile, and Alaska. A full list of DCO-related meetings and events is attached.


    4. Launch of New Initiatives

    The Secretariat assisted with activating several initiatives from 2012 through 2014, including the DCO Data Science Team, the DCO Engagement Team, the Integrative Field Studies initiative, the Earth Materials Data Infrastructure, and several initiatives for Early Career Scientists.

    Launch of DCO Data Science and Management Team

    The DCO Secretariat helped launch the DCO Data Science Team, which is lead by Peter Fox, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), under a separate Sloan Foundation grant. The Secretariat has provided feedback to the Data Science Team during development of the DCO Portal since 2013. The Secretariat also provided support (~$35,000) for the DCO Data Science Day on 5 June 2014, organized by the DCO Data Science Team. This event allowed a number of DCO scientists to visit RPI and learn about DCO data opportunities. The Secretariat also has provided travel support for Data Science Team staff members to interact with the DCO science community at various community workshops and meetings.

    Launch of DCO Communications and Engagement Team

    Prior to March 2013, the DCO Secretariat hosted a DCO website and produced a monthly newsletter, which included science highlights and information relevant to the DCO community. After developing an initial Communications and Engagement Plan with feedback from the Secretariat and Executive Committee, the Engagement Team created a new DCO website and newsletter in March 2013. The DCO Engagement Team is lead by Sara Hickox, University of Rhode Island, and supported by a grant from the Sloan Foundation. Since 2012, the Secretariat and Engagement Team have communicated frequently, including via weekly conference calls, to coordinate DCO activities ranging from the deepcarbon.net website and newsletter to broader topics of branding, community building, and press release strategy. The Secretariat budget has supplemented Engagement activities by covering travel expenses and promotional products. In addition, the Secretariat funded a DCO community reception at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Meeting to release the DCO Midterm Scientific Report, which was drafted by the DCO Secretariat with layout and design by the DCO Engagement Team.

    Launch of Integrative Field Studies

    The DCO Secretariat played a lead role in developing a DCO proposal in January 2014 for Integrative Field Studies by Principal Investigator Peter Kelemen of Columbia University. The successful proposal supports initial exploratory scientific drilling, geophysical measurements, and other studies of the Oman ophiolites, which contain perhaps the best-exposed zones of active serpentinization on Earth, with their attendant dynamic physical, chemical, and biological activity. DCO’s support for the Oman Drilling Project has been complemented by more than $1.5 million of support from the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program and other sources. 

    The highly-leveraged Integrated Field Studies proposal supports six other field projects: (1) deep fluids, noble gases, and microbiota of key sites within the ancient Canadian Shield; (2) the ~3.5 billion-year-old North Pole Dome region of Western Australia, which contains Earth’s oldest fossils and well-preserved C-bearing sediments; (3) drilling sites in the hydrocarbon-rich Songliao Basin of China; (4) a tectonically active exhumed subduction zone on Corsica, France; (5) the Romashkino oil fields in Tatarstan, Russia; and (6) enigmatic Arctic seafloor methane deposits. Each project integrates interests of two or more DCO science communities. Other DCO field work, such as DECADE’s volcano monitoring, is built into various projects supported by the DCO science communities or through small Secretariat rapid response support.

    Launch of Earth Materials Data Infrastructure

    The DCO Secretariat supported development work ($60,000 staff support) specific to linking existing mineral databases into a comprehensive Earth Materials Data Infrastructure, including a carbon mineral database with age-locality-species information. These data—integral to modeling Earth and its deep carbon cycle through time—are currently part of the International Mineralogical Association database of mineral properties (RRUF project). This investment has been leveraged even more as a result of Robert Hazen’s successful Keck Foundation $1.4 million proposal on “The co-evolution for the geo- and biospheres: an integrated program for data-driven adductive discovery in the earth sciences.”

    Launch of Other DCO Initiatives

    In addition to helping to launch DCO’s Data Science Team, Engagement Team, and Integrated Field Studies, the DCO Secretariat has assisted with many other proposals. These proposals include the first DCO Summer School, first DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop, Increasing the Participation and Retention of U.S. Underrepresented Geoscientists in the DCO, and Increasing the Use of Existing Scientific Collections for DCO Projects. In some activities, such as the DCO Summer School, the Secretariat has played a major role in organization and implementation by providing substantial staff support.


    5. Publication of Carbon in Earth

    The DCO Secretariat played the lead role in producing Carbon in Earth (2013), the first major collective publication of the DCO. This open-access volume was published as a special issue of Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry. The 698-page book contains twenty chapters by more than fifty researchers in nine countries and integrates a vast body of research in physics, chemistry, biology, and Earth and space sciences. Each chapter synthesizes what we know about deep carbon, and also outlines unanswered questions to guide the DCO for the remainder of the decade and beyond. Strong interest in this publication is indicated by more than 700,000 chapter downloads within nine months of the publication date. Carbon in Earth has received extensive media attention, including coverage by the world’s four largest news services (Reuters, AP, Agence France Press, and Agencia EFE) and over 530 websites across 59 countries and in 12 languages.


    6. Revision of DCO Decadal Goals and Publication of DCO Midterm Scientific Report

    Revision of DCO Decadal Goals and Guiding Questions

    Robert Hazen spearheaded the process of revising DCO’s Decadal Goals and Guiding Questions in conjunction with the DCO Executive Committee and Science Community leaders. These revised Decadal Goals help the communities refine and refocus their efforts after several years of scientific progress, while the Guiding Questions identify the issues that will drive future research. The goals and questions also articulate clear benchmarks for assessing progress.

    Midterm Scientific Report of the DCO

    The DCO Secretariat created a Midterm Scientific Report of the Deep Carbon Observatory, which documents five years of transformative science taking place within the framework of the DCO Decadal Goals. This report was released during the 2014 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, USA, and was highlighted in the Engagement Team’s 2014 press release. The midterm scientific report cites 105 peer-reviewed publications, including many papers in Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and other high-impact journals. These publications represent a subset of the bibliography of contributions of the DCO, which contains more than 400 publications. The Midterm Scientific Report also contains a section, “The Next Five Years,” that highlights new science opportunities.


    7. Building International Community, Corporate Engagement, and Fundraising

    International Community Building

    A continuing source of DCO’s strength is its broad international community, which increases DCO access to samples and field sites around the world as well as to global scientific experience and laboratory resources. We have met our original aspirations to develop a community of at least 1000 scholars in 40 countries. Indeed, the DCO is surpassing those objectives and the Secretariat continues to work with the DCO Engagement and Data Science Teams to develop stronger and deeper relationships with community members. 

    In addition, the Secretariat, Engagement Team, and Data Science Team continue to develop the DCO web portal as a pillar of DCO community building, with incentives and benefits to ensure participation. DCO’s website and infrastructure supports enhanced web-based collaboration through a suite of customized tools which allow scientists to browse through information on DCO people, field studies, grants, and publications; to upload datasets for open availability to the DCO community; to create groups for sending documents and holding discussions; and to view DCO science highlights, announcements, and job postings. These features allow for a wide spectrum of potential interaction among research teams and communities on an international scale, and a repository for a broad range of information using a unique Digital Object Identifier system.  

    Corporate Engagement and Fundraising

    Corporate engagement included important DCO delegations that visited Total in Paris, France (January 2014) and Petrobras and other institutions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 2013). Secretariat funds also supported trips by individual travelers to attend meetings in China, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries to develop opportunities for DCO collaboration. In addition, the DCO Secretariat played a lead role in organizing the Kazan Workshop on Abiotic Hydrocarbons—co-sponsored by the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia and the DCO—on 13-17 April 2013 on the historic campus of Kazan Federal University. More than 40 people from six countries participated in the workshop in this important oil-producing region. The organizing committee was co-chaired by Academician Renat Muslimov, Professor of Geology at Kazan Federal University and Advisor to the President of the Republic of Tatarstan on development of oil fields.


    8. Other Activities

    Funding from this grant was reprogrammed to support two other major activities:

    DCO Science Community Support

    The DCO Secretariat set up no-cost extensions to subawards established under the previous grant (2009-6-05) to launch the four DCO science communities (post-doctoral support, administrative support, and travel funds for community meetings). Each DCO science community used this support in accordance with their individual needs. 

    Small rapid-response opportunities

    Only a relatively small amount of support has been needed for office expenses due to the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s in-kind support for the Secretariat office. These and other funds available through cost savings were used to support small highly leveraged and rapid-response opportunities such as seasonal field work on Disko Island (Greenland) and in Dziani Dzaha crater lake (Mayotte, Indian Ocean).