Biogeosciences Meeting Report

Early-Career Scientists Tackle Deep Carbon

Second Deep Carbon Observatory Early Career Scientist Workshop; São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, 31 August to 5 September 2015

By , Katie Pratt, and Fátima Viveiros

Most of Earth’s carbon is buried deep in the lower crust, mantle, and core, and understanding the deep carbon cycle remains a significant scientific challenge. The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a global research program involving a multidisciplinary community of scientists committed to understanding the forms, movements, quantities, and origins of carbon in Earth.

To sustain the study of deep carbon, early-career scientists will need to play a significant role in the future of the science. DCO has supported several activities to build a cohesive community of early-career scientists, including a workshop at the University of the Azores in São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, in early September 2015.

The Second DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop brought together 47 senior graduate students, postdocs, and new assistant professors from 18 countries and 37 institutions for an immersive week of deep carbon science. Building on the success of prior workshops in Costa Rica and Yellowstone National Park, this workshop integrated classroom sessions and field days to engage participants.

Multidisciplinary Sample Collection and Data Analysis

Deep carbon science is multidisciplinary in nature, requiring the distinct skill sets of scientists from a variety of research areas. However, there is a scarcity of colocated, synoptic measurements (i.e., samples taken at a defined series of sites over the same time period) spanning the entire diversity of DCO disciplines. With 47 deep carbon scientists in the same place at the same time, the workshop was a golden opportunity to test a multidisciplinary, colocated sampling effort.

The organizing committee secured sampling permits for the hydrothermal area of Furnas Volcano, and after a reconnaissance expedition on the first of the meeting’s field trip days, the group spent an afternoon at the University of the Azores developing a sampling plan encompassing many aspects of DCO’s scientific scope (geochemical analyses, microbial sampling, gas composition, etc.). The field sampling, conducted on the second field trip day, was a highly successful learning experience, thanks to the expertise and professionalism of all workshop participants.

Beyond the Workshop: Data Analysis, Publication, and Open Science

To continue collaborating internationally and openly, the participants are blogging about their sample analysis in a collective digital notebook. Using the resulting data, they will compile an open access publication and will make all the raw data available. An extended report and video summary of the workshop are also available.

This ambitious venture was a key catalyst in uniting an international group of early-career scientists from a variety of scientific disciplines and can serve as an example for future community-building workshops.


The Second DCO Early Career Scientist Workshop was made possible with support from the Deep Carbon Observatory, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Centre of Volcanology and Geological Risks Assessment of the University of the Azores, and contributions from the American Geoscience Institute and corporate sponsors WestSystems, Almax, and Nano-Tech.

—Donato Giovannelli, Institute of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.; also at Institute for Marine Science, National Research Council of Italy, Ancona, Italy; email: [email protected]; Katie Pratt, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett; and Fátima Viveiros, Centre of Volcanology and Geological Risks Assessment, University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Citation: Giovannelli, D., K. Pratt, and F. Viveiros (2016), Early-career scientists tackle deep carbon, Eos, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO046699. Published on 24 February 2016.

© 2016. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0