University of Arizona

To elucidate the concept of carbon mineral evolution

  • Amount $231,050
  • City Tucson, AZ
  • Investigator Robert Downs
  • Year 2016
  • Program Science
  • Sub-program Deep Carbon Observatory

This grant funds efforts by Robert Downs of the University of Arizona and Robert Hazen, cofounder of the Deep Carbon Observatory, to undertake a systematic application of evolutionary theories to carbon minerals. Downs and Hazen have argued persuasively that the lens of evolution fruitfully explains key aspects of diversification of mineral species, mineralization rates, and structural complexity through Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history. Two-thirds of Earth’s mineral species are biologically mediated, inextricably linking the geosphere and biosphere in co-evolution. Grant funds support two interconnected activities. First, Downs and Hazen will develop and exploit data resources, statistical modeling, and visualization tools to understand quantitatively Earth’s changing carbon mineralogy from crust to mantle. Second, they will expand and explore the Deep-Time Data Infrastructure, which combines mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, and proteomics resources. Planned outputs include an open-access carbon mineral data base with more than 10,000 data sets for carbon-bearing minerals that include age, locality, and depth.

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