Abiotic carbon, subducted biology

Exciting news from the Deep Carbon Observatory:

A press release 22 April 2019 just summarized some highlights from a decade of work on abiotic carbon in the Deep Carbon Observatory:


Coverage here:

Decade-Long Geology Project Rewrites Origins of Earth’s Methane 22 April 2019   Discover

Our old friend Tommy Gold would be thrilled.

A paper by Peter Barry and Co. in Nature magazine explores what happens when biology meets subduction:



Deep Carbon Observatory abiotic carbon research

A press release summarizes the research of the Deep Carbon Observatory on methane and other hydrocarbons that are not fossil fuels but rather abiotic in origin.  Congratulations to Giuseppe Etiope and others who have led the work.  Tommy Gold would be happy.

April 22, 2019

Rewriting the textbook on fossil fuels: New technologies help unravel nature’s methane recipes

by Deep Carbon Observatory

Deep Life reports from Deep Carbon Observatory

The Deep Life Community shared its progress over the past decade in the Deep Carbon Observatory at the December 2018 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington DC.  Jesse Ausubel helped found the DCO in 2009.

Articles include: Life in deep Earth totals 15 to 23 billion tons of carbon—hundreds of …  Phys.OrgDec 10, 2018Deep Life scientists say about 70% of Earth’s bacteria and archaea …. says Jesse Ausubel of the Rockefeller University, a founder of the DCO.

PersonalTech MD The group has approximated the ‘size of the deep biosphere to be 2 to … Jesse Ausubel, of the Rockefeller University, a founder of the DCO, …

Deep Carbon Observatory News

Way back in 2007-2009, inspired by the late Tommy Gold, Jesse Ausubel joined Robert Hazen and Russell Hemley in launching the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).  The program is now at a peak of activity, as well reported in the DCO’s August newsletter From the Deep.

We offer below some prior posts about deep carbon.

7 December 2016

The Deep Carbon Observatory, which Jesse Ausubel has helped create and manage, offers some new short, enjoyable videos about its work.  For example, Deep life Volcano prediction…

8 October 2016

Deep Carbon Observatory researchers have created an eye-popping animation that shows volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and associated emissions since 1960…and reveals the seamy structure of the Earth.  See the press release about Exhaling Earth and the 70-second E3 animation..

9 September 2016

Deep Carbon Observatory researchers set off on quest to find the top temperature limit for life.  Jesse, who helps manage the program for the Sloan Foundation, will join the shore-based team for a few days in early October.  You can enter your own guess for the limit and win a prize!

2 November 2015

Jesse offered the closing remarks in Italian at the 9 October symposium of the Deep Carbon Observatory at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome.  An English translation is also included at the link.

15 December 2014

Deep carbon science is rising.  A Press release highlights publication of the Deep Carbon Observatory’s midterm scientific report and participation at the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting, 15-19 December 2014 in San Francisco, USA.  Jesse Ausubel continues to advise the program and marvel at the abundance of methane and hydrogen.

10 December 2013

The Deep Carbon Observatory announced exciting discoveries about hard rock life and production of hydrogen to feed the life by cooking water, rock, and aluminum oxide together.

5 June 2013

Yikes, we realize we never posted the 4 March news of the release of the baseline report of the Deep Carbon Observatory. The Press Release, which Jesse helped draft with Terry Collins, provides an excellent summary of the DCO program. The baseline is the landmark, freely available (open access) volume Carbon in Earth and its […]

19 March 2013

In 2008, with Robert Hazen and Russell Hemley of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Jesse helped initiate the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The DCO recently passed a major milestone with the publication of its 700-page baseline report, Carbon in Earth. A press release summarizes some of the […]

16 May 2011

The newsletter Oilprice.com takes an interest in the Deep Carbon Observatory and abiogenic methane in a good article,The Search for Deep Oil and Gas, by Brian Westenhaus. Deep Carbon Interest in the Oil and Gas sector

23 December 2009

The new international Deep Carbon Observatory https://dco.ciw.edu/ led by Robert Hazen and Russ Hemley has launched its website.  Jesse and Veselin Kostov have helped initiate the DCO and look forward to many discoveries. Enjoy Bob Hazen’s excellent radio interview on Science Friday.

11 February 2008

Where did petroleum come from? How did it form? When? These are the first few questions the great scientist Dmitri Mendeleev asked in the chapter “On the origins of petroleum” in his book “Petroleum industry in Pennsylvania and Caucasus“. The year was 1877, 120 years after Mikhail Lomonosov pronounced that oil is a fossil fuel. […]

15 November 2006

Under PHE auspices, Evgeny Yantovski, one of the originators of the concept of Zero Emission Power Plants, has written a startlingly imaginative tribute to the late Tommy Gold, “Thomas Gold and the Future of Methane as a Fuel,” in which Evgeny presents Fayalite as a fuel, with methane being the energy carrier. Viewed in this […]

23 September 2004

Our endlessly creative and provocative Cornell colleague Thomas Gold passed away on 22 June at age 84. Tommy pioneered thinking about abiogenic methane and the deep hot biosphere. He opened our eyes in the late 1970s to the possibility that the popular beliefs about the origins of “fossil fuels”, and their abundance and distribution, might […]



Animation of eruptions, earthquakes, emissions

Deep Carbon Observatory researchers have created an eye-popping animation that shows volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and associated emissions since 1960…and reveals the seamy structure of the Earth.  See the press release about Exhaling Earth and the 70-second E3 animation.

Coverage includes

Washington Post

Watch Earth pulse with earthquakes and eruptions in this stunning visualization


Daily Mail

Global system could help predict cataclysmic supervolcano eruptions


Volcano insight: Fifty years of eruptions revealed


Una aplicación compila todas las erupciones volcánicas desde 1960


Eruzioni e terremoti, 50 anni di dati in un’app

New York Times

What 50 Years of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions Look Like

Congratulations to Liz Cottrell, Tobias Fischer, Marie Edmonds and Co. on super science!

Rare minerals

Hard copy version of our paper applying concepts of rarity in biology to rarity in geology published: American Mineralogist, June 2016; 101 (6) Invited Centennial Article

On the nature and significance of rarity in mineralogy
Robert M. Hazen, Jesse H. Ausubel
American Mineralogist, v. 101, i. 6, p. 1245-1251, Published on June 2016, First Published on June 02, 2016, doi:10.2138/am-2016-5601CCBY