News from the seabed – Geological characteristics and resource potential of deep-sea mineral resources

Petersen, Sven, Krätschell, Anna, Augustin, Nico, Jamieson, John, Hein, J. R. and Hannington, Mark D. (2016) News from the seabed – Geological characteristics and resource potential of deep-sea mineral resources Marine Policy, 70 . pp. 175-187. DOI 10.1016/j.marpol.2016.03.012.

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Abstract

Highlights

• Geological characteristics of deep-sea minerals vary widely.
• Deep-sea mineral occurrences differ in their resource potential.
• Sizes of most favorable areas of formation influence exploration efforts.

Abstract

Marine minerals such as manganese nodules, Co-rich ferromanganese crusts, and seafloor massive sulfides are commonly seen as possible future resources that could potentially add to the global raw materials supply. At present, a proper assessment of these resources is not possible due to a severe lack of information regarding their size, distribution, and composition. It is clear, however, that manganese nodules and Co-rich ferromanganese crusts are a vast resource and mining them could have a profound impact on global metal markets, whereas the global resource potential of seafloor massive sulfides appears to be small. These deep-sea mineral commodities are formed by very different geological processes resulting in deposits with distinctly different characteristics. The geological boundary conditions also determine the size of any future mining operations and the area that will be affected by mining. Similarly, the sizes of the most favorable areas that need to be explored for a global resource assessment are also dependent on the geological environment. Size reaches 38 million km2 for manganese nodules, while those for Co-rich crusts (1.7 million km2) and massive sulfides (3.2 million km2) are much smaller. Moreover, different commodities are more abundant in some jurisdictions than in others. While only 19% of the favorable area for manganese nodules lies within the Exclusive Economic Zone of coastal states or is covered by proposals for the extension of the continental shelf, 42% of the favorable areas for massive sulfides and 54% for Co-rich crusts are located in EEZs.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: This paper describes the geological characteristics of deep-sea mineral resources provided to participants of the “International Workshop on Environmental Standards for Deep-seabed Mining” at the University of Tromsø in the spring 2015. It builds on a compilation of data provided to the European Commission in 2014 as part of a report for the European Commission under call FWC MARE/2012/06-SC E2013/04.
Keywords: Marine mineral resources; Seabed mining; Manganese nodules; Co-rich Ferromanganese crusts; Seafloor massive sulfides
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems > Marine Mineralische Rohstoffe
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.marpol.2016.03.012
ISSN: 0308-597X
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2016 11:44
Last Modified: 03 May 2017 07:24
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/31949

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