Live Blog: Trail by Fire 1.5 expedition to South America

Our team of early career volcanologists is conducting expeditions to the South American Andes. Our objective is to provide the first accurate and large-scale estimate of the flux of volatile species (H2O, H2, CO2, CO, SO2, H2S, HCl, HF, and more) emitted by volcanoes of the Nazca subduction zone. The journey is taking us across half a continent, from the giant volcanoes of Ecuador through the altiplanoes of Peru and to the Southern tip of Chile, traveling on some of the Earth’s highest roads, and climbing some of the Earth's tallest volcanoes.

Read More
Deep Mantle Chemistry Surprise: Carbon Content not Uniform

Even though carbon is one of the most abundant elements on Earth, it is actually very difficult to determine how much of it exists below the surface in Earth’s interior. Research by Deep Carbon Observatory scientists Marion Le Voyer, Erik Hauri (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA), Katherine Kelley (University of Rhode Island, USA) and Elizabeth Cottrell (Smithsonian Institution, USA) has doubled the world’s known finds of mantle carbon. Their findings, based on analyses of crystals containing mantle magma samples, are published in Nature Communications.

Read More
DECADERobin Dienel
Measuring Volcanic Eruptions from Space: Uniting Geophysical and Geochemical Data

When volcanoes erupt, they spew lava, ash, and gas into the atmosphere and over the surrounding landscape. The impacts of volcanic eruptions in populated areas are well documented, since scientists can monitor gas emissions and collect physical samples with relative ease. However, a significant fraction of Earth’s volcanoes are remote, making direct observation challenging.

Read More
DECADERobin Dienel
Earth’s Largest Diamonds Form in Metal-bearing Part of Earth’s Mantle

Super-deep diamonds, which form more than 380 km deep in Earth’s mantle, are invaluable tools for deep carbon scientists. Not only do they harbor clues about how they formed and therefore the reactions taking place inside Earth, they also trap small samples of mantle minerals, so-called inclusions, within their carbon crystal structure as they grow. These tiny samples of Earth’s deep interior from the region where the diamond forms are preserved under high pressure within a super-strong, unreactive diamond shell.

Read More
DMGCRobin Dienel
High-Frequency Gas Monitoring Reveals Carbon Dioxide Precursor to Eruptions at Turrialba Volcano

Turrialba volcano has deposited ash on the capital city of Costa Rica and its 3 million inhabitants numerous times since 2014. In a new article in the Journal of Geophysical Research and an online Earthchem database, a DCO-DECADE team led by Maarten de Moor (National University, Costa Rica) and Alessandro Aiuppa (Palermo University, Italy) tracked changes in gas composition and flux from 2014 to present [1,2]. The near-continuous and high-frequency gas monitoring time series (Multi-GAS and scanning DOAS stations) reveal a volcano in a state of extreme turmoil, posing an increasing threat to local lives and livelihoods.

Read More
DECADERobin Dienel
Third International Diamond School at the University of Alberta, Canada

The Third International Diamond School took place at the University of Alberta, with the Deep Carbon Observatory as the main event sponsor (together with De Beers and IsoMass). DCO's Graham Pearson (Reservoirs and Fluxes Scientific Steering Committee member; University of Alberta, Canada), Steve Shirey (Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, USA), Thomas Stachel University of Alberta, Canada), Bob Luth (University of Alberta) and Fabrizio Nestola (University of Padua, Italy) were the principal conveners. The event continued in the tradition of having a mixed participation of students, senior academics, and industry. Seventy-five delegates, including 2 BSc students, and 30 Ph.D and Masters students from Canada, USA, Australia, and the UK attended, along with 18 delegates from industry and Government/Provincial Geological Surveys.

Read More
DMGCRobin Dienel
Volcanic Gas Precursors to Phreatic Eruptions at Poás Volcano, Costa Rica

Poás volcano (Costa Rica) is one of the most chemically extreme environments on Earth, hosting an ultra-acidic crater lake (pH ~0, T ~50°C) as well as high temperature fumaroles (up to ~800°C in recent years). The lake was the site of intense phreatic eruptive behavior between 2006 and 2014. Volcanic eruptions involving interaction with water are particularly energetic, causing a disproportionate number of human casualties. Phreatic eruptions are also exceedingly difficult to forecast, often occurring with little or no geophysical precursors.

Read More
DECADERobin Dienel
Scientists Detect Deep Carbon Emissions Associated with Continental Rifting

Scientists believe carbon dioxide (CO2) release into the atmosphere from Earth's interior takes place mostly via degassing from active volcanoes. CO2 can also escape along faults away from active volcanic centers. However, such tectonic degassing is poorly constrained, and to date has been largely unmeasured. DCO's Tobias Fischer (University of New Mexico, USA) and colleagues conducted research to effectively study carbon emissions through fault systems in the East African Rift (EAR) in an effort to understand carbon emissions from Earth’s interior and how it affects the atmosphere. Their work is published in Nature Geoscience, and is part of a continued effort to better quantify global emissions of CO2 from Earth’s interior.

Read More
DECADERobin Dienel
Ambrym: A Top Three Worldwide Volcanic Emitter of Deep Carbon Dioxide and Other Magma-Derived Volatiles

Improved quantification of the global emissions of deep carbon through volcanism is one key objective of the Deep Carbon Observatory’s DECADE (Deep Carbon Degassing) initiative supported by the Reservoirs and Fluxes Community. One quantification approach measures deep carbon degassing in very active but as yet undocumented remote volcanic regions, the Vanuatu island arc in the southwest Pacific, for example. In a recent issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research [1], an international team led by DECADE board of directors members Patrick Allard (IPGP, France), Alessandro Aiuppa (Palermo University, Italy) and Hiroshi Shinohara (JSG, Japan) demonstrated that the Ambrym basaltic volcano in central Vanuatu arc ranks among the top-three known persistent emitters of volcanic gas at the global scale.

Read More
DECADERobin Dienel
Superdeep Diamonds Provide Evidence for a Melting Barrier to Deep Carbon Subduction

Carbon is cycled from Earth’s surface to its depths, emerging through the crust from volcanoes, and descending to the mantle in subducting ocean floor. But how far down is the carbon subducted? In a letter by Andrew Thomson, Michael Walter, Simon Kohn, and Richard Brooker (University of Bristol, UK) published in Nature, the authors propose that most carbon goes no deeper than about 300 to 500 kilometers, at which point a carbon barrier limits carbon recycling into the deeper mantle [1].

Read More
DMGCRobin Dienel
Diamond Formation in Ancient, Underground Seawater

Diamonds are crystals of carbon, formed deep in Earth. As diamond crystals grow, they sometimes trap fluids or other mineral crystals, micro-samples of their surrounding environment. In a study published in Nature, a team of scientists, including DCO’s Graham Pearson (University of Alberta, Canada), describes an unexpected mechanism for diamond formation relying on ancient, subducted seawater [1]. 

Read More
DMGCRobin Dienel