Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Deep Carbon Observatory

This ten-year program, begun in 2009, aims to revolutionize our understanding of the carbon deep in Earth, including its connections to the origins of life and to the origins, distribution, and abundance of fossil fuels.  Through a multidisciplinary international network of scientists and technologists, the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) develops and deploys new instrumentation, collects observations, and performs analyses. 

Initial activities of the Deep Carbon Observatory focused on the tremendous challenges posed by any large scale coordinated scientific enterprise: building institutional and technical infrastructure, engaging a network of scholars, setting priorities, securing funds from stakeholders, benchmarking the state of deep Earth knowledge, and developing instruments to meet the severe technical challenges associated with probing the high-pressure, high-temperature processes in Earth’s deep interior.  The DCO’s research agenda is being carried out through four research communities, one focused on the deep biosphere, another on deep energy, a third on carbon reservoirs and the flux of carbon between mantle and surface, and a fourth focused on the extreme physics and chemistry of carbon in high-pressure, high-temperature environments.