Carbon in Earth

A collective publication of the Deep Carbon Observatory

Carbon in Earth coverCarbon in Earth is a special, open-access volume representing the first major collective publication of the Deep Carbon Observatory. It offers an in-depth look at the field of deep carbon science.


Published as a special issue of Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry in 2013, Carbon in Earth is comprised of 20 chapters by more than 50 researchers in nine countries. The 700-page book integrates a vast body of research in physics, chemistry, biology and Earth and space sciences. Each chapter synthesizes what we know about deep carbon, and also outlines unanswered questions that will guide the Deep Carbon Observatory for the remainder of the decade and beyond.


In the first four months after its publication close to 700,000 chapters were downloaded. Carbon in Earth received extensive media attention, including coverage by the world’s four largest news services -- Reuters, AP, Agence France Press, and Agencia EFE -- and over 530 websites across 59 countries and in 12 languages. 

Download a copy of the book here.


  • Robert Hazen
    Robert Hazen Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, USA
    Robert Hazen
    Robert Hazen
    Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, USA

    DCO’s Executive Director Robert Hazen is a mineralogist and astrobiologist. He is a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, and professor of Earth Science at George Mason University. Hazen is author of more than 400 articles and 20 books on science, history, and music. His recent research focuses on the role of minerals in the origin of life, including such processes as mineral-catalyzed organic synthesis and the selective adsorption of organic molecules on mineral surfaces. He has also developed a new approach to mineralogy, called "mineral evolution," which explores the co-evolution of the geo- and biospheres. His work has been recognized by Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of America, the Geochemical Society, and the Mineralogical Society of America. He was the 2016 recipient of the Roebling Medal—the highest award in mineralogy, and has received many other science research awards. The mineral hazenite was named in his honor.

  • Dr. Adrian Jones
    Adrian Jones University College London, UK
    Dr. Adrian Jones
    Adrian Jones
    University College London, UK

    Dr. Adrian Jones is a reader in petrology at the University College London, where he teaches igneous petrology and works on shocked materials. His laboratory uses high-pressure solid-state multi-anvil presses to quantify materials and melting behavior in Earth’s mantle and the transport of materials to sites of volcanic eruptions. He is particularly interested in the deep carbon cycle—where deep carbon is stored and how it is entrained back to the surface in carbon-rich magmas. Jones was a founding member of the Deep Carbon Observatory and continues to serve on its Executive Committee, as well as a member of Synthesis Group 2019. 

  • Dr. John A. Baross
    John Baross University of Washington, USA
    Dr. John A. Baross
    John Baross
    University of Washington, USA

    Dr. John A. Baross is a professor in oceanography and the astrobiology program at the University of Washington, USA. An oceanographer and astrobiologist, Baross studies life in extreme environments—the ecology, evolution, physiology, and taxonomy of microorganisms that make their home around hydrothermal vents on the seafloor and in the deep subseafloor. More broadly, he is interested in the origins of life and the possibility of life on other planetary bodies. In recognition of his work, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and is also a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the International Society for the Study of the Origin and Evolution of Life.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Why deep carbon? Hazen RM, Schiffries CM
Chapter 2 Carbon mineralogy and crystal chemistry Hazen RM, Downs RT, Jones AP, Kah L
Chapter 3 Structure, bonding, and mineralogy of carbon at extreme conditions Oganov AR, Hemley RJ, Hazen RM, Jones AP
Chapter 4 Carbon mineral evolution Hazen RM, Downs RT, Kah L, Sverjensky DA
Chapter 5 The chemistry of carbon in aqueous fluids at crustal and upper-mantle conditions: experimental and theoretical constraints Manning CE, Shock EL, Sverjensky DA
Chapter 6 Primordial origins of Earth’s carbon Marty B, Alexander CMO'D, Raymond SN
Chapter 7 Ingassing, storage, and outgassing of terrestrial carbon through geologic time Dasgupta R
Chapter 8 Carbon in the core: its influence on the properties of core and mantle Wood BJ, Li J, Shahar A
Chapter 9 Carbon in silicate melts Ni H, Keppler H
Chapter 10 Carbonate melts and carbonatites Jones AP, Genge M, Carmody L
Chapter 11 Deep carbon emissions from volcanoes Burton MR, Sawyer GM, Granieri D
Chapter 12 Diamonds and the geology of mantle carbon Shirey SB, Cartigny P, Frost DJ, Keshav S, Nestola F, Nimis P, Pearson DG, Sobolev NV, Walter MJ
Chapter 13 Nanoprobes for deep carbon Mao WL, Boulard E
Chapter 14 On the origins of deep hydrocarbons Sephton MA, Hazen RM
Chapter 15 Laboratory simulations of abiotic hydrocarbon formation in Earth’s deep subsurface McCollom TM
Chapter 16 Hydrocarbon behavior at nanoscale interfaces Cole DR, Ok S, Striolo A, Phan A
Chapter 17 Nature and extent of the deep biosphere Colwell FS, D’Hondt S
Chapter 18 Serpentinization, carbon, and deep life Schrenk MO, Brazelton WJ, Lang SQ
Chapter 19 High-pressure biochemistry and biophysics Meersman F, Daniel I, Bartlett DH, Winter R, Hazael R, McMillan PF
Chapter 20 The deep viriosphere: assessing the viral impact on microbial community dynamics in the deep subsurface Anderson RE, Brazelton WJ, Baross JA
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