Scientists gathered at the Hotel Biancaneve in the town of Nicolosi, from which participants could watch Etna’s activity at all hours of the day. For some participants, spending time on an active volcano was a completely new experience, but for others, it was business as usual. The variety in the disciplines and the backgrounds of the participants is one of the strengths of the DCO Early Career Scientist workshops, with microbiologists learning from volcanologists, geochemists from geodynamicists, and all combinations in between.
As in previous years (see reports from the 2014 and 2015 DCO Early Career Scientist Workshops), the scientific program focused on the variety of expertise brought to the table. Everyone shared a short “lightning” talk about their work, making sure to communicate across scientific community boundaries. And in a fun but engaging way, several participants embraced the mass of an elephant as a unifying scale to think about quantities of elements or minerals on Earth.
More elephants! 240,000,000,000 Indian elephants worth of C burial in Sichuan lake. Definitely a popular unit of mass at #DCOECS17— Deep Carbon Obsrvtry (@deepcarb) August 31, 2017
“It was incredible hosting this group of multi-disciplinary, and multi-talented, scientists in my home of Sicily,” said Stagno. “I can’t wait to see what happens next for this group as we collaborate and move the field of deep carbon science forward.”
Lead workshop organizer Vincenzo Stagno (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy) invited several researchers from local research institutes at Palermo (Universita degli studi di Palermo and INGV Palermo) and Catania (INGV Catania), to the workshop, who generously shared their time and expertise to educate the group on Etna’s eruptive capabilities, history, and geochemical settings. Boris Behnke (INGV Catania), for example, ended his talk with a vibrant video montage of Etna erupting, and the next day led a fascinating field trip to the summit of the volcano. Unfortunately the participants did not reach the crater’s edge, however, co-organizer Peter Barry (University of Oxford, UK) managed to capture some incredible footage using a drone-mounted camera, which can be seen below.
During a second field trip, participants visited the mud volcanoes of Paterno’ with guide Salvatore Giammanco (INGV Catania). The second trip afforded the opportunity to collect samples for studying deep carbon degassing and microbial activity in these active geological settings.
The last morning of the workshop included a series of breakout sessions and group discussions led by Task Force 2020’s (TF2020) Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, USA) and Antonio Costa (INGV Bologna, Italy). This TF2020 “mini workshop” helped identify how DCO can best support early career researchers after the program culminates in 2019, and investigated new avenues for multi-disciplinary science focused on volatile cycling on Earth and other planets.
The organizing committee, Vincenzo Stagno, Giancarlo Tamburello (INGV Bologna, Italy), Peter Barry, Valerio Cerantola (ESRF, France), Melitza Crespo-Medina (Inter-American University of Puerto Rico), Tobias Keller (Stanford University, USA), Riikka Kietäväinen (Geological Survey of Finland), and Katie Pratt (University of Rhode Island, USA) all played a significant role in the success of the workshop. They would like to thank Veronica Stopponi and Marco Caruso (Sapienza Univerisity of Rome, Italy) for their tireless assistance, as well as generous sponsorship from the DCO, Thermo Fisher Scientific, West Systems, CarboPAT, INGV, the town of Nicolosi, and the Italian Society of Mineralogy and Petrology.