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 is an organic geochemist and multimedia science producer based in Cambridge, MA. Each day, she's either in the lab, telling stories about ancient life and environments through organic geochemistry or phylogenomics, or she's sharing the exciting research conducted at MIT with K-12 students around the world through video as host of the MIT Abstracts talk series by the MIT-Nord Anglia Education Collaboration. In addition to her graduate studies, Fatima is also the managing producer of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society's weekly radio series called Possibly, which explores the science behind sustainability. Prior to her Ph.D. studies at MIT, she was MIT's Curiosity Correspondent and completed an internship at NOVA | PBS. Fatima is particularly interested in the applications of lipid biomarkers to paleoenvironmental reconstruction to study human history, the evolution of photosynthetic organisms, climate change, science writing, and education. Thesis: The Deepest Paradox: Seafloor Mining and Its Future


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