Deep Earth Carbon Degassing Project

Deep Earth Carbon Degassing (DECADE) project is an initiative to unite scientists around the world to make tangible advances towards quantifying the amount of carbon outgassed from the Earth's deep interior (core, mantle, crust) into the surface environment (e.g. biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere) through naturally occurring processes. DECADE is an initiative within the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).

Volcanoes are the main pathway in which deeply sourced volatiles, including carbon, are transferred from the Earth's interior to the surface environment.[1] An additional, though less well understood, pathway includes along faults and fractures within the Earth's crust,[2] often referred to as tectonic degassing. When the DCO was first formed in 2009 estimates of global carbon flux from volcanic regions ranged from 65 to 540 Mt/yr,[2] and constraints on global tectonic degassing were virtually unknown.[2] The order of magnitude uncertainty in current volcanic/tectonic carbon outgassing makes answering fundamental questions about the global carbon budget virtually impossible. In particular, one fundamental unknown is if carbon transferred to the Earth's interior via subduction is efficiently recycled back to the Earth's mantle lithosphere, crust and surface environment through volcanic and tectonic degassing, or if significant quantities of carbon are being subducted into the deep mantle.[3] Because significant quantities of mantle carbon are also released through mid-ocean ridge volcanism, if carbon inputs and outputs at subduction zone settings are in balance, then the net effect will be an imbalance in the global carbon budget, with carbon being preferentially removed from the Earth's deep interior and redistributed to more shallow reservoirs including the mantle lithosphere, crust, hydrosphere and atmosphere. The implications of this may mean that carbon concentrations in the surface environment are increasing over Earth's history, which has significant implications for climate change.

Findings from the DECADE project will increase our understanding of the way carbon cycles through deep Earth, and patterns in volcanic emissions data could potentially alert scientists to an impending eruption.[4]

Project goalsEdit

The main goal of the DECADE project is to refine estimates of global carbon outgassing using a multipronged approach. Specifically, the DECADE initiative unites scientists with expertise in geochemistry, petrology and volcanology to provide constraints on the global volcanic carbon flux by 1) establishing a database of volcanic and hydrothermal gas compositions and fluxes linked to EarthChem/PetDB and the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program, 2) building a global monitoring network to continuously measure the volcanic carbon flux of 20 active volcanoes, 3) measure the carbon flux of remote volcanoes, for which no or only sparse data are currently available, 4) develop new field and analytical instrumentation for carbon measurements and flux monitoring, and 5) establish formal collaborations with volcano observatories around the world to support volcanic gas measurement and monitoring activities.[5]


The DECADE initiative was conceived in September 2011 by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior Commission on the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases during its 11th field workshop.[6] Here the charge of the initiative was broadly defined and the governance structure established. The DECADE receives financial support from Deep Carbon Observatory to meet the project goals, with support distributed to DECADE members based on project proposal submission and external review and/or consensus by the Board of Directors. All projects are significantly matched by funding sources from the individual investigators or other funding agencies. The initiative is led by a Board of Directors that has nine members including one chair and two co-vice chairs. Currently the DECADE initiative has around 80 members from 13 countries.


As of 2016 major achievements supported or partially supported by the DECADE initiative include:


The following volcanoes are currently monitored by the DECADE initiative:

Volcano Country Notes
Masaya Volcano Nicaragua
Popocatépetl Mexico
Galeras Colombia
Nevado del Ruiz Colombia
Villarrica Volcano Chile Equipment was destroyed by Villarrica's 2015 eruption.
Turrialba Costa Rica
Poás Costa Rica
Mount Merapi Indonesia
White Island New Zealand

Map of the DCO DECADE project volcano installationsEdit



  1. ^ Dasgupta, R. (2013). "Ingassing, Storage, and Outgassing of Terrestrial Carbon through Geologic Time". Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry. 75 (1): 183–220. Bibcode:2013RvMG...75..183D. doi:10.2138/rmg.2013.75.7.
  2. ^ a b c "Deep carbon emissions from volcanoes, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry: Carbon in Earth, 75, 323–355" (PDF).
  3. ^ Kelemen, Peter B; Manning, Craig E (July 28, 2015). "Reevaluating carbon fluxes in subduction zones, what goes down, mostly comes up". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112 (30): E3997–E4006. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112E3997K. doi:10.1073/pnas.1507889112. PMC 4522802. PMID 26048906.
  4. ^ Sarah Kaplan (October 10, 2016). "Watch Earth pulse with earthquakes and eruptions in this stunning visualization". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Fischer, T. P. (2013), DEep CArbon DEgassing: The Deep Carbon Observatory DECADE Initiative, Mineralogical Magazine, 77(5), 1089".
  6. ^ "11th Field Workshop on Volcanic Gases".
  7. ^ Allard, Patrick (2016). "Allard, P., M. Burton, G. M. Sawyer, and P. Bani (2016), Degassing dynamics of basaltic lava lake at a top-ranking volatile emitter: Ambrym volcano, Vanuatu arc, Earth & Planetary Science Letters, 448, 69–80". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 448: 69–80. Bibcode:2016E&PSL.448...69A. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2016.05.014.
  8. ^ Aiuppa, A. (2015). "First determination of magma-derived gas emissions from Bromo volcano, eastern Java (Indonesia)" (PDF). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 304: 206–213. Bibcode:2015JVGR..304..206A. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2015.09.008. hdl:10447/172898.
  9. ^ Bani, Philipson (2015). "First measurement of the volcanic gas output from Anak Krakatau, Indonesia". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 302: 237–241. Bibcode:2015JVGR..302..237B. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2015.07.008.
  10. ^ de Moor, J.M. (2016). "Short-period volcanic gas precursors to phreatic eruptions: Insights from Poás Volcano, Costa Rica". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 442: 218–227. Bibcode:2016E&PSL.442..218D. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2016.02.056.
  11. ^ Fischer, T. P., and T. M. Lopez (2016). "First airborne samples of a volcanic plume for d13C of CO2 determinations". Geophysical Research Letters. 43 (7): 3272–3279. doi:10.1002/2016GL068499.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Andrade, César (2016). "Estimation of the CO2 flux from Furnas volcanic Lake (São Miguel, Azores)". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 315: 51–64. Bibcode:2016JVGR..315...51A. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.02.005.

External linksEdit