Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 23 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 23, No. 1
Pages 184 - 189

OpenAccess

Seamount Mineral Deposits: A Source of Rare Metals for High-Technology Industries

James R. Hein Tracey A. ConradHubert Staudigel
Article Abstract

The near exponential growth in Earth’s population and the global economy puts increasing constraints on our planet’s finite supply of natural metal resources, and, consequently, there is an increasing need for new sources to supply high-tech industries. To date, effectively all of our raw-metal resources are produced at land-based sites. Except for nearshore placer deposits, the marine environment has been largely excluded from metal mining due to technological difficulties, even though it covers more than 70% of the planet. The case can be made that deep-water seabed mining is inevitable in the future, owing to the critical and strategic metal needs for human society. In this paper, we evaluate the case that seamounts offer significant potential for mining.

Citation

Hein, J.R., T.A. Conrad, and H. Staudigel. 2010. Seamount mineral deposits: A source of rare metals for high-technology industries. Oceanography 23(1):184–189, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.70.

References

Benninger, L.M., and J.R. Hein. 2000. Diagenetic evolution of seamount phosphorite. Pp. 245–256 in Marine Authigenesis: From Global to Microbial. C.L. Glenn, L. Prévôt-Lucas, and J. Lucas, eds, SEPM Special Publication 66, Tulsa, OK.

Bruland, K.W. 1983. Trace elements in seawater. Pp. 157–220 in Chemical Oceanography, vol. 8. J.P. Riley and G. Skirrow, eds, Academic Press, New York. 

Bu, W., X. Shi, J. Peng, and L. Qi. 2003. Geochemical characteristics of seamount ferromanganese nodules from mid-Pacific ocean. Chinese Science Bulletin 48:98–105. 

Chen, Y.L., J.G. Analytis, J.-H. Chu, Z.K. Liu, S.-K. Mo, X.L. Qi, H.J. Zhang, D.H. Lu, X. Dai, Z. Fang, and others. 2009. Experimental realization of a three-dimensional topological insulator, Bi2Te3. Science 325:178–181. 

de Ronde, C.E.J., M.D. Hannington, P. Stoffers, I.C. Wright, R.G. Ditchburn, A.G. Reyes, E.T. Baker, G.J. Massoth, J.E. Lupton, S.L. Walker, and others. 2005. Evolution of a submarine magmatic-hydrothermal system: Brothers Volcano, southern Kermadec Arc, New Zealand. Economic Geology 100:1,097–1,133. 

Embley, R.W., E.T. Baker, D.A. Butterfield, W.W. Chadwick Jr., J.E. Lupton, J.A. Resing, C.E.J. de Ronde, K.-I. Nakamura, V. Tunnicliffe, J.F. Dower, and S.G. Merle. 2007. Exploring the submarine ring of fire, Mariana arc—western Pacific. Oceanography 20(4):68–79. 

Fthenakis, V. 2009. Sustainability of photovoltaics: The case for thin-film solar cells. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13:2,746–2,750. 

Govett, G.J.S. 1983. Handbook of Exploration Geochemistry: Rock Geochemistry in Mineral Exploration, vol. 3. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 461 pp.

Hein, J.R., 2008. Geologic characteristics and geographic distribution of potential cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts deposits in the area. Pp. 59–90 in Mining Cobalt-Rich Ferromanganese Crusts and Polymetallic Sulphide Deposits: Technological and Economic Considerations. Proceedings of the International Seabed Authority’s Workshop held in Kingston, Jamaica, July 31–August 4, 2006.

Hein, J.R., T.A. Conrad, and R.E. Dunham. 2009. Seamount characteristics and mine-site model applied to exploration- and mining-lease-block selection for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts. Marine Georesources and Geotechnology 27:160–176.

Hein, J.R., A.E. Gibbs, D.A. Clague, and M. Torresan. 1996. Hydrothermal mineralization along submarine rift zones, Hawaii. Marine Georesources and Geotechnology 14:177–203.

Hein, J.R., A. Koschinsky, M. Bau, F.T. Manheim, J.-K. Kang, and L. Roberts. 2000. Cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the Pacific. Pp. 239–279 in Handbook of Marine Mineral Deposits. D.S. Cronan, ed., CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Hein, J.R., A. Koschinsky, and A.N. Halliday. 2003. Global occurrence of tellurium-rich ferromanganese oxyhydroxide crusts and a model for the enrichment of tellurium. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 67:1,117–1,127.

Hein, J.R., B.R. McIntyre, and D.Z. Piper. 2005. State of knowledge of marine mineral resources in Exclusive Economic Zones of Pacific islands of US affiliation, excluding Hawaii. US Geological Survey Circular 1286, 62 pp. 

Hein, J.R., M.S. Schulz, R.E. Dunham, R.J. Stern, and S.H. Bloomer. 2008. Diffuse flow hydrothermal manganese mineralization along the active Mariana and southern Izu-Bonin arc system, western Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research 113, B08S14, https://doi.org/10.1029/2007JB005432.

Hein, J.R., H.-W. Yeh, S.H. Gunn, A.E. Gibbs, and C.-H. Wang. 1994. Composition and origin of hydrothermal ironstones from central Pacific seamounts. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 58:179–189.

Pitcher, T.J., M.R. Clark, T. Morato, and R. Watson. 2010. Seamount fisheries: Do they have a future? Oceanography 23(1):134–144.

Puteanus, D., G.P. Glasby, P. Stoffers, and H. Kunzendorf. 1991. Hydrothermal iron-rich deposits from the Teahitia-Mehitia and Macdonald hot spot areas, southwest Pacific. Marine Geology 98:389–409. 

Sawkins, F.J. 1990. Metal Deposits in Relation to Plate Tectonics, 2nd ed. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 461 pp. 

Smith, W.H.F., and D.T. Sandwell. 1997. Global seafloor topography from satellite altimetry and ship depth soundings. Science 277:1,957–1,962.

Staudigel, H., and D.A. Clague. 2010. The geological history of deep-sea volcanoes: Biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere interactions. Oceanography 23(1):58–71.

Wessel, P., D.T. Sandwell, and S.-S. Kim. 2010. The global seamount census. Oceanography 23(1):24–33.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.