Synthesizing Science

The Deep Carbon Observatory is made up of more than 1000 scientists in 52 countries, who have published countless scientific publications since the launch of DCO in 2009. Leading up to the culmination of this decadal program in 2019, we are sharing what our scientific community has learned and what remains unknown, and perhaps unknowable, about the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon in Earth. 

This synthesis of knowledge is taking place among and across DCO’s four Science Communities. Collectively, this body of work is advancing the field of deep carbon science by enhancing what is known about the important role of deep carbon on planetary function. 

Synthesis Group 2019, a subcommittee within DCO, is helping to guide this synthesis and integration process, spearheading several exciting projects that are described below:  


Biology Meets Subduction Biology Meets Subduction

Biology Meets Subduction was a field-sampling program to investigate connections between microbiology, volcanic systems, and the cycling of living and dead carbon as Earth’s plates move and subduct past each other.

Earth in Five Reactions Earth in Five Reactions

Deep Carbon scientists have pondered, debated, and arrived at a consensus regarding the most important carbon-related reactions on Earth, providing a new and integrative way to explain and advance deep carbon science.

Carbon Mineral Evolution Carbon Mineral Evolution

Carbon Mineral Evolution is a revolutionary data mining project bringing novel network analysis to the field of mineralogy.


This ambitious project will result in the first integrated thermodynamic model of the magma-fluid system, making it possible to predict how carbon moves between solid, liquid, and fluid phases in response to temperature and pressure inside Earth.

Whole Earth Carbon Whole Earth Carbon

Whole Earth Carbon is an edited volume that will tell the story of what our international community of deep carbon scientists have learned over the last decade.


DCO is also encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration in these cross-cutting initiatives:

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Data Science

DCO data science combines informatics, data management, library science, network science, computer science, and domain science to provide researchers with a full complement of data resources.

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DCO supports novel instrumentation projects that approach challenges in deep carbon science from new perspectives, providing researchers with new tools for investigating scientific questions.

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Field Studies

DCO scientists conduct field expeditions to some of the most remote yet scientifically valuable places on the planet.

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DCO Modeling and Visualization

DCO researchers use computational tools to investigate and visualize Earth’s inner workings.

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Journal articles, books, and other publications by DCO scientists are expanding our knowledge of carbon in Earth. 

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