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QNRF Newsletter Archive

The International Deep Carbon Observatory: Progress & Prospects

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The Deep Carbon Observatory website - an open access resource.

QNRF was privileged to host a presentation given by Mr Jesse Ausubel on the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).

In 2009 Mr. Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University in New York City, helped initiate the Deep Carbon Observatory to search for the secrets of volcanoes and diamonds, the roots of oil & gas and the origins and limits of life.

In what will eventually be a decade-long effort, the multidisciplinary and international Deep Carbon Observatory project aims to transform understanding of carbon’s chemical and biological roles in the deeper parts of the Earth’s crust and mantle. Describing the progress and plans of the DCO, Mr. Ausubel tackled such questions as how much carbon is stored within the Earth and how carbon moves from one to another of those deep repositories.

His extensive presentation illustrated the physical and thermochemical properties of the deep carbon-bearing fluids that carry carbon to and from the Earth’s surface. Such fluids migrate deep within the interior of the Earth and then return back to the surface. He explained the diversity and extent of the vast, deep microbial biosphere that exists beneath the earth’s crust and the potentially unique biochemical characteristics of deep life, together with the implications for societal issues concerning energy, environment and climate. His work included distributed but closely coordinated observational efforts, shared development of widely accessible analytical instruments and integrated, open access databases.

Drawing on his vast and diverse experience, Mr Ausubel originally initiated the Census of Marine Life, a program to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in all oceans. He also co-founded the Barcode of Life Initiative, identify animal, plant and fungal species by short DNA sequences and served as the founding chair of the Encyclopedia of Life, during 2006-2007, a project designed to create a webpage for every species. Mr. Ausubel is an adjunct scientist of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and has led several activities of the US Council on Foreign Relations about environment and resources.

In 2009 Dalhousie University (Canada) awarded Mr. Ausubel an honorary doctorate for his contributions to environmental science. In 2010 he received the Blue Frontier prize for ocean science and, in 2011, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. St. Andrews University (Scotland) awarded him an honorary doctorate and in the US he was named National Ocean Champion, 2012.

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