Now the Deep Carbon Observatory has reached the midway point in this effort, and the preliminary results have wide-ranging applications. Fresh understanding of how carbon compounds like methane are created at depth hints at the origins of life on Earth—and the possibility for life deep under the surfaces of far-off worlds. Newly revealed structures of carbon show how we might one day build powerful computers from diamond. And detailed analysis of volcanic gases is offering a window into the amount of deeply held carbon that is entering Earth's atmosphere.
“Understanding carbon at a fundamental level is critical to the health and well-being of society, and deep carbon is an important part of that story that we just don’t know very much about,” the observatory's executive director Robert Hazen says in the video above. “Carbon is not only the element of life but now the premiere element of science.”