The Deepest Paradox: Seafloor Mining and Its Future

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.


Fatima Husain

About Fatima Husain

Fatima was born in Houston, Texas but raised in West Des Moines, Iowa, where she spent most of her time caught between writing and gardening. Fascinated by the soil and atmospheric chemistry that affected each season’s roses or hydrangeas, she studied biology and chemistry by day and posted actively in gardening forums by night. She continued her study of nature and its stories at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she performed arctic paleoclimate research for three years while she earned an Sc.B. in Geology-Chemistry. She has published her work in numerous media, including The College Hill Independent, where she served as science editor for two years. Her other works have been published in the Catalyst journal, The Brown Daily Herald, Johns Hopkins University’s Imagine Magazine, the Lyrical Iowa journal, Closed Captioned magazine, and online at When she’s not attempting to germinate avocado seeds in her kitchen or researching geoengineering experiments, she can be contacted at or on Twitter @fatimagulhusain.


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