IRESS 2018 – Whole Earth Systems and carbon
(IRESS 2017 – Building a passive margin)
The habitability of our planet depends in large part on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Too little carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Earth’s surface could freeze over, but too much could lead to runaway greenhouse. Although carbon dioxide levels over Earth’s history have not changed so much to extinguish life completely, the variations are significant enough to have influenced the evolution of life, climate, and the nature of geologic processes on Earth’s surface.
This workshop will bring together a diverse set of experts from academia and industry to develop a better understanding of how carbon cycling has evolved on Earth. We will discuss the origin of volatiles from a planetary accretion and differentiation perspective and how volatiles are exchanged between deep planetary interiors and their atmospheres through tectonics, magmatism, weathering, sedimentation, and biology. Of interest will be how these processes operate over vast lengthscales and timescales from cycling on the whole Earth scale, which operates on billions to millions of years, to the exchange of carbon between the ocean and atmosphere, which operates on timescales of seconds to thousands of years.
We will also discuss carbon in the context of energy, from the origin of hydrocarbon source rocks to the generation of reservoirs. Organic-rich sediments can also lead to important metal ores. We will discuss new technologies for hydrocarbon exploration and source rock characterization. Finally, we will discuss carbon economics and policy in terms of energy, environment and society. IRESS 2018 represents a unique opportunity to have a vigorous discussion about carbon in the context of economic growth and the habitability of our planet.
An interdisciplinary think tank at Rice University
With all these advancements, there is no better time than now to revisit, challenge and redefine our understanding of passive margins, and equally importantly to explore the implications for natural resources, paleo-environments, climate and Earth history. We are also in a time where we know more as a community, but we have become more specialized than ever before, making it difficult to communicate and synthesize. We are at a crossroads, where further progress requires an interdisciplinary approach that juxtaposes the deep and surface Earth, industry and academics, and finally physicists, chemists and geologists. Houston, through the IRESS initiative launched in 2014 and sponsored by Rice University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences (EEPS), offers a unique opportunity to bring together leaders in Earth science from both industry and academia. The Rice EEPS department is one of the world’s leading innovators of generating new frameworks for understanding whole Earth system dynamics. Rice EEPS, in partnership with industry and private enterprise, will serve as a global think tank to advance our understanding of earth, planetary and environmental systems.