Metals mined from the seafloor could support tomorrow’s technological and clean energy innovations. Though the mineralogical and geochemical significance of seafloor deposits, which lie thousands of meters below the water’s surface in geological formations such as polymetallic nodules, ferromanganese crusts, and seafloor massive sulfides is well-established, the biological and ecological profiles of these sites are still actively developing. As a result, the two scientific disciplines – geochemistry and biology – have advanced at different rates. Regions of the seafloor including the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, the Prime Crust Zone, and inactive or waning hydrothermal vent systems have attracted attention for their unique concentration of metals used in electronics and strong magnets. With commercial mining activities set to commence in 2019 by Canadian company Nautilus Minerals, it is time to assess the paradoxical nature of seafloor mining: to mine the seafloor to support sustainable and efficient technological development on the land above.
The Deepest Paradox: Seafloor Mining and Its Future
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