RY2016-1 Project Update uri icon

DCO ID 11121/2208-2504-7999-4216-CC

Date Submitted

  • 2016-03-14

Update Text

  • Deep Carbon Observatory Secretariat Progress Report

    Grant Number:  2014-6-01 14 March 2016

    1 July 2014 – 31 March 2017



    1. Introduction

    2. Facilitating DCO Leadership Activity

    3. Organizing DCO Meetings and Events

    4. Launching New Initiatives

    5. Maintaining Bibliography of Contributions to the DCO

    6. Coordinating DCO Peer Review Report

    7. Promoting Early Career Scientists

    8. Increasing Diversity of DCO Activities

    9. Reducing Enterprise Risk 


    1. Introduction

    Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant 2014-6-01, to Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Robert M. Hazen and co-PI Dr. Craig M. Schiffries, has supported the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) Secretariat from 1 July 2014 to present. This progress report describes major Secretariat activities and operations conducted to date under Grant 2014-6-01.

    2. Facilitating DCO Leadership Activity

    A key role of the Secretariat is to provide support for the DCO Executive Committee and leaders of the Scientific Steering Committees. This role includes organizing Executive Committee meetings approximately twice each year, meetings of opportunity at major conferences, and monthly teleconferences. The Secretariat also coordinates Executive Committee review, revision, and endorsement of draft proposals before they are submitted to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, conducts official Executive Committee votes and polls, and assists with appointing new members to the Executive Committee and other DCO leadership bodies.

    For all Executive Committee meetings and teleconferences, the Secretariat creates agendas, briefing books, and action items. These documents require considerable effort; briefing books, in particular, often total several hundred pages and require significant planning and preparation to create. The Secretariat drafts, edits, and/or revises many of these documents, distributes them to the Executive Committee, and uploads them to an online archive where a complete list of these and other documents is available. This archive is contained 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.

    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. 

    DCO Executive Committee Meetings coordinated to date under the current grant are discussed below.

    Los Angeles, California (1-2 October 2014)

    The DCO Executive Committee conducted site visits at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology on 30 September 2014 and held a meeting at the University of California, Los Angeles on 1-2 October 2014. This meeting facilitated DCO’s growing collaborations, including the potential for satellites such as NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) to measure volcanic gas emissions from space, and new opportunities for integrating satellite measurements with DCO’s ground-based measurements. (This meeting was partly supported by DCO Secretariat Grant 2012-1-03.)

    Muscat, Oman (30-31 January 2015)

    The DCO Executive Committee met in Muscat, Oman, on 30-31 January 2015. This meeting strengthened regional support and planning for the Oman Drilling Project, the flagship project in a 2014 DCO field studies proposal. The proposal PI, Peter Kelemen (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, USA), led three days of optional field trips prior to the meeting that allowed available Executive Committee members and local guests and university researchers to interact while visiting key field locations in the Samail Ophiolite. Additional meetings with Omani and Qatari government officials in conjunction with the Executive Committee meeting focused on generating additional funding support and preparing for local permitting requirements associated with drilling. In addition to DCO Secretariat planning and travel support, Sloan’s 2014-3-01 grant award for Integrative Field Studies for the Deep Carbon Observatory provided $300,000 in critical funding to anchor the Oman Drilling Project. The International Continental Scientific Drilling Program subsequently committed $1.5 million in support to the Oman Drilling Project, and six agencies in four countries also committed funds. Additional international support is pending.

    During the meeting, the Executive Committee also discussed other DCO scientific drilling opportunities, such as potential projects and collaborations with International Continental Drilling Program and International Ocean Discovery Program. A presentation by Bernard Marty (CRPG-CNRS, France) about work in Hawaii, USA and Afar, Ethiopia launched a spirited dialogue about the importance of diffuse degassing of carbon dioxide. This discussion motivated the DCO Executive Committee to meet in Rome, Italy, in order to visit field sites renowned for diffuse volcanic and tectonic degassing.

    Rome, Italy (8-9 October 2015)

    The DCO Executive Committee met in Rome on 8-9 October 2015 at the historic Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in order to strengthen linkages between the DCO and Italy’s robust deep carbon research community and to explore some of the world’s foremost examples of diffuse degassing of carbon dioxide associated with both volcanic and tectonic processes. For two days prior to the meeting, local experts led field trips to several classic field sites, including Mefite d’Ansanto and the Campi Flegrei caldera. 

    This meeting also facilitated Executive Committee discussion of key strategic items for the final years of the DCO, including synthesis efforts and leadership. In addition to discussing these internal matters, the Executive Committee interacted with a broad segment of the Italian scientific community for whom the DCO may provide a unifying research theme. More than 50 members of the Italian scientific community from over 25 institutions participated in a scientific symposium on Friday, 9 October, where topics presented ranged from carbonititic liquids at subduction zones (local host Stefano Poli, Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Italy), to diamond inclusions (Fabrizio Nestola, Universitá degli Studi di Padova, Italy).

    Washington, DC (1-2 March 2016)

    The DCO Executive Committee gathered at the Carnegie Institution for Science headquarters in Washington, DC on 1-2 March 2016 to conduct intensive discussions on program outcomes and synthesis efforts. New initiatives featured prominently throughout the discussion, including DCO Task Force 2020, synthesis and integration strategies, and the Modeling and Visualization Forum for Deep Carbon. The meeting showcased a special screening of “Life’s Rocky Start,” a NOVA documentary featuring Robert Hazen, in the historic Carnegie Institution auditorium. This NOVA film, which synthesized fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and computational modeling, spurred discussion on other potential DCO synthesis products and themes.

    DCO Executive Committee Teleconferences

    The DCO Secretariat organizes monthly DCO Executive Committee teleconferences to conduct routine business. Executive Committee teleconferences are used to review draft proposals, to plan internal affairs and upcoming meetings, to address program needs, to maintain DCO momentum through action items, and to distribute key information items such as final proposals, reviews, and supplements. The Secretariat has scheduled, prepared for, and conducted 14 Executive Committee teleconferences between 1 July 2014 and 1 March 2016.

    Coordination of Executive Committee Proposal Review Process

    The Secretariat manages the Executive Committee’s internal peer review process for major DCO proposals, including proposals to launch DCO initiatives as described below. The Secretariat distributes each draft proposal to the Executive Committee and invites one of its members to serve as lead internal reviewer. The lead reviewer and Executive Committee members provide input and comments on the the draft proposal, which is then revised by the PI in response to this feedback. Once modifications are complete, the lead internal reviewer endorses the revised proposal on behalf of the DCO Executive Committee, and the Secretariat and/or lead internal reviewer draft letters of endorsement to include in the final proposal package.

    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 the Secretariat’s budget supports the biennial DCO International Science Meeting, DCO Executive Committee meetings, DCO representative travel, and numerous leveraged workshop opportunities to promote relevant science.

    Several DCO meetings and events coordinated by the Secretariat under the current grant are discussed below.

    Second DCO International Science Meeting

    More than 175 scientists from 18 countries participated in the Second Deep Carbon Observatory International Science Meeting, which was held at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany from 26-28 March 2015. The DCO Secretariat provided primary financial support and logistical planning for this meeting, working closely with local host Don Dingwell (Ludwig Maximilian University) and a Science Program Committee chaired by Craig Manning (University of California Los Angeles). 

    The scientific program featured 47 plenary oral presentations and 119 poster presentations that addressed all aspects of DCO's diverse research portfolio. The program encompassed all four DCO research communities, as well as DCO’s instrumentation initiatives and global suite of field studies. The combination of diverse presentations and posters with opportunities for discussion at receptions and meals facilitated new, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and nurtured the growing DCO Science Network. 

    DCO Workshop on Extreme Biophysics

    The Secretariat provided organizational support and a small amount of financial support for a workshop designed to jumpstart a new DCO initiative in “Extreme Biophysics.” This workshop, held on 14-15 November 2015, was hosted by the Secretariat at the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, in Washington, DC. It successfully brought together members of the DCO’s Deep Life and Extreme Physics and Chemistry Communities, as well as researchers previously unaffiliated with the DCO. Participants shared information about the state of knowledge in their fields and identified collaborative projects to pursue. Members of the workshop Organizing Committee prepared a white paper summarizing the outcomes from the workshop and are currently seeking external resources to support future research in this newly emerging scientific field. 

    DCO Summer Schools

    The Secretariat provided financial and organizational support for the First DCO Summer School in July 2014 and is providing similar support for the upcoming Second DCO Summer School in July 2016. The Second DCO Summer School, which will be held from 23-28 July 2016, will build on the success of the first DCO Summer School in 2014. Like the First DCO Summer School, it will introduce approximately 35 students and early career scientists to the multidisciplinary approach of the DCO using the unique field sites available in Yellowstone National Park.

    Other DCO Meetings and Events

    Many additional meetings, workshops, and other events have received some financial and/or organizational support from the Secretariat. These are listed below, with the type of support for each event noted.

    GSA Short Course: Deep Carbon through Deep Time

    Vancouver, Canada, 18 October 2014

    Financial* and organizational support

    Deep Time Data Workshop at AGU

    San Francisco, California, 14 December 2014

    Financial* and organizational support

    Celebration event to release 2014 Midterm Scientific Report at AGU

    San Francisco, California, 16 December 2014

    Financial* and organizational support

    Second International Diamond School

    Padua, Italy, 27-31 January 2015

    Financial support

    Mantle, water, and life: The ultramafic-hosted Rainbow hydrothermal field

    Lyon, France, 10-12 June 2015

    Financial support

    Single Cell Genomics Workshop

    Stepanauskas, 14-18 June 2015

    Financial support

    Emergence in Chemical Systems 4.0

    Anchorage, Alaska, 22-27 June 2015

    Financial support

    DCO Thematic Institute: Carbon from the Mantle to the Surface , in conjunction with Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research (CIDER)

    Berkeley, California, 30 June – 3 July 2015

    Financial support

    CECAM Workshop: Carbon at Extreme Conditions

    Lugano, Switzerland, 26-30 October 2015

    Financial support

    *Financial support in part from previous Secretariat grant (2012-6-01)

    4. Launching New Initiatives

    The Secretariat has helped launch a number of initiatives since July 2014, including several modeling and visualization initiatives, DCO Synthesis Group 2019, and DCO Task Force 2020. The DCO Secretariat provides assistance with proposal preparation, especially for new PIs who are not familiar with the entire range of DCO activities and resources. 

    Launch of Modeling and Visualization Initiatives

    The Secretariat played a significant role in a number of new modeling and visualization initiatives, including a Modeling and Visualization Workshop at the Smithsonian led by PI Elizabeth Cottrell (Smithsonian Institution) and a Modeling and Visualization Forum led by PI Louise Kellogg (University of California, Davis).

    The Secretariat helped launch DCO’s modeling and visualization initiatives, including a workshop at the Smithsonian Institution in May 2015 organized by Elizabeth Cottrell. This workshop took important steps toward modeling, visualizing, and communicating deep carbon, and explored the many considerations, both creative and scientific, implicit in the project. The workshop itself was only a kick-off meeting to ignite a five-year effort to model, visualize, and communicate about deep carbon. After the workshop, the Organizing Committee further developed this initiative through a call for proposals to seed and jump-start modeling, visualization, and communication efforts.

    In addition to the modeling and visualization activities related to the Smithsonian Workshop, further modeling efforts were secured through a Modeling and Visualization Forum for Deep Carbon proposal. With some Secretariat assistance, PI Louise Kellogg and colleagues submitted this proposal, which aims to develop a model of carbon pathways in Earth—a critical activity among DCO’s 2019 synthesis efforts. The open-access forum for modeling and visualizing deep carbon will engage and energize DCO’s broad international community of scientists. As well as establishing the modeling and visualization forum, scientists involved in this effort will work towards generating a planetary-scale “box model” of carbon pathways and explore key processes such as the role of melting in fluxes.

    Launch of DCO Synthesis Group 2019 (pending)

    The Secretariat is involved with other synthesis and integration activities in addition to the modeling and visualization initiatives described above. In particular, the Secretariat has provided input and guidance related to the development of a synthesis task force, tentatively named Synthesis Group 2019. This activity was launched subsequent to the DCO Synthesis Workshop in Rhode Island on 29-30 October 2015, which was funded by the DCO Secretariat and organized and hosted by the DCO Engagement Team. Synthesis Group 2019 will collaborate intensively with the DCO Engagement Team in the years leading up to DCO’s grand finale.

    Launch of DCO Task Force 2020

    The Secretariat assisted in the development of a proposal from PI Claude Jaupart (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France), which outlines a plan for maintaining DCO’s legacies in 2020 and beyond. This initiative will form DCO Task Force 2020, an international group of scientific leaders who will recommend strategies that build upon DCO’s decade of interdisciplinary discovery. Task Force 2020 will identify new and existing opportunities for deep carbon science post-2019 and will develop further initiatives to secure DCO’s legacies. In addition to considering DCO’s instrumentation and modeling initiatives, members of Task Force 2020 will engage and focus on DCO’s vibrant community of Early Career Scientists.

    Launch of Other Initiatives

    The Secretariat has been involved in the launch of several other initiatives during the period of performance of this award:

    Deep Earth Water Group

    This initiative, led by PI Dimitri Sverjensky (Johns Hopkins University), aims to create a global Deep Earth Water Group—a connected, interactive network of Early Career Scientists working on the role of water in deep Earth. 

    Increasing the Participation and Retention of U.S. Underrepresented Geoscientists in the DCO

    This initiative, led by PI Heather Houlton (American Geosciences Institute), is focused on recruiting and retaining geoscientists from underrepresented groups, including African American, Hispanic, Latino/Latina, Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, in all DCO activities.

    Increasing the Use of Existing Scientific Collections for DCO Projects and Best Practices for curation of, and accession to any newly acquired geologic samples by DCO Research

    This initiative, led by PI Beverly DeJarnett (University of Texas, Austin), aims to increase DCO’s awareness and utilization of existing scientific collections that may contain samples of interest to DCO scientists, as well as providing some best practices for curation of current and future DCO samples.

    5. Maintaining Bibliography of Contributions to the DCO

    Working with the Science Communities and Data Science Team, the Secretariat compiled a comprehensive bibliography of contributions to the DCO. The bibliography contains more than 500 peer-reviewed publications during the past four years, including more than 50 papers in Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Several papers are emerging as citation classics, but overall it is early to use bibliometrics. The bibliographies show the emergence of new researchers in every field. 

    The initial bibliography served as the basis of a peer review report (see below). Moving forward, the Secretariat will maintain this bibliography and ensure that it remains up-to-date along with the DCO Data Portal Publications Browser.

    6. Coordinating DCO Peer Review Report

    The Secretariat coordinated efforts to create a DCO Peer Review Report, which assessed scientific progress achieved during the first half of the decadal program. For the review, the four DCO Science Communities were each asked to provide a list of approximately 100 publications to reflect their activity. From this list, a shorter list was created with select high-impact papers by community to illustrate DCO research highlights. The report evaluated the contribution of DCO’s peer-reviewed literature, both on its own and in relation to the stated goals of each Community. The report concluded that the DCO had made significant progress towards addressing its Decadal Goals.

    7. Promoting Early Career Scientists

    The Secretariat is committed to involving growing numbers of Early Career Scientists in DCO activities. Because these scientists represent DCO’s future, creating a strong network of committed individuals during the decadal program will be necessary for DCO’s success after 2019.

    A series of Early Career Scientist events have helped build a strong network with a sense of community and active participation. The DCO Secretariat has facilitated a number of these successful Early Career Scientist initiatives, including:

    • First DCO Summer School, Yellowstone National Park (2014)
    • Second DCO Summer School, Yellowstone National Park (planned for July 2016)
    • First DCO Early Career Workshop, Costa Rica (2013)
    • Second DCO Early Career Workshop, Azores (2015)
    • Third DCO Early Career Workshop, Italy (planned for 2017)
    • DCO Emerging Leader Awards
    • DCO Early Career Scientist Sessions at the 2014 AGU Meeting
    • DCO Early Career Scientist Sessions at the 2015 AGU Meeting
    • DCO Early Career Scientist Sessions at the 2016 Goldschmidt Conference, Yokohama, Japan

    The DCO Secretariat has facilitated the appointment of additional Early Career Scientists to DCO leadership bodies, including:

    • DCO Executive Committee
    • DCO Scientific Steering Committees
    • DCO Task Force 2020
    • DCO Synthesis Group 2019 (appointments pending)
    • DECADE Board of Directors
    • Diamonds and the Mantle Geodynamics of Carbon leaders
    • DCO Summer School Organizing Committee
    • DCO International Science Meeting Scientific Program Committee
    • DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop Organizing Committee

    8. Increasing Diversity of DCO Activities

    The Secretariat has committed to increasing the diversity of people involved in DCO initiatives, activities, and groups. This includes diversity of scientific discipline, gender, geography, and career stage. 

    Appointments to DCO Executive Committee and other leadership groups

    The DCO Executive Committee chose to expand its membership in 2016 to increase its diversity and to reflect crosscutting DCO initiatives in modeling and visualization and synthesis and integration. The Secretariat collaborated with the Executive Committee to identify candidates and ultimately appoint four new members. These new members increased the gender diversity, career stage diversity, and geographic diversity of the Executive Committee. Among the new members, three of four are female and two of four are early career scientists. The four new members reside in three different countries. The Secretariat continues to work with the Executive Committee to increase the diversity of scientists on DCO leadership groups, including appointment of additional women and early career scientists, while maintaining scientific and international balance across the four DCO Science Communities.

    Increasing the Participation and Retention of U.S. Underrepresented Geoscientists in the DCO

    In 2014, the American Geosciences Institute received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support a two-year effort towards increasing the participation of geoscientists from USA underrepresented groups, including African American, Hispanic, Latino/Latina, Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, in the DCO. During the current award, the Secretariat has collaborated with the AGI Principal Investigator, Heather Houlton, providing feedback on AGI’s efforts and coordinating activity between AGI and DCO scientists, as well as forming the peer review panel to evaluate research proposals under this award. To date, the AGI grant has recruited and supported seven USA underrepresented geoscientists who are becoming involved with the DCO.

    Increasing Gender Diversity in the DCO

    The Secretariat is committed to increasing gender diversity in all DCO leadership groups.  In addition to the three female members recently added to the DCO Executive Committee, many female PIs have led recent DCO proposals. These include:

    Catherine Royer (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

    Workshop on “Molecular Adaptation to Life at Extremes” & Development of In Vivo Biophysical Instrumentation

    Louise Kellogg (University of California, Davis)

    Modeling and Visualization Forum for Deep Carbon

    Marie Edmonds (University of Cambridge)

    Strategic Vision and Leadership of the Deep Carbon Observatory Synthesis Group 2019

    Sara Hickox and Sunshine Menezes (University of Rhode Island)

    Deep Carbon Observatory Engagement: The Road to 2019

    Elizabeth Cottrell (Smithsonian Institution)

    Toward a 4D Planetary Carbon Circulation Model

    Beverly DeJarnett (University of Texas, Austin) 

    Increasing the Use of Existing Scientific Collections for DCO Projects and Best Practices for curation of, and accession to any newly acquired geologic samples by DCO Research

    Heather Houlton (American Geosciences Institute)

    Increasing the Participation and Retention of U.S. Underrepresented Geoscientists in the DCO

    Other examples of gender diversity in DCO activities include:

    • Four female members (57%) of 2015 Early Career Scientist Workshop Organizing Committee 
    • 23 female participants (49%) at 2015 Early Career Scientist Workshop
    • Two female organizers (50%) of Early Career Scientist session at AGU 2015 
    • Three female organizers (50%) of 2016 DCO Summer School 
    • Three of the four (75%) DCO Scientific Steering Committees have a female Chair or Co-Chair

    9. Reducing Enterprise Risk 

    Risk management is key to ensuring the success of post-2019 DCO. In early 2016, the Secretariat updated DCO’s Risk Register and distributed it for Executive Committee feedback. This updated document focuses on risks related to the final years of the program, including those associated with DCO’s synthesis efforts, DCO Task Force 2020, and other post-2019 risks. Maintaining this document, and more importantly, implementing the risk control measures, will help ensure a successful close to the decadal program in 2019.