Scientist from Heriot-Watt University are working with an international team to explore the Pacific Ocean and deep-sea nodule mining.
The group recently returned from a 34-day expedition to study deep-sea biodiversity and ecological processes in the western Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ).
The expedition, aboard the UH-operated research vessel Kilo Moana, studied an area in the Pacific Ocean where numerous manganese nodule mining exploration claims are located.
The project is being led by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Chief scientist Craig Smith, professor of Oceanography at the university said: “The diversity of life in these seafloor areas is really amazing. We found at least ten species of giant sea cucumbers, a huge squid worm never seen before in the Pacific Ocean, and all kinds of sponges and other animals with really neat adaptations, such as sea cucumbers with long tails that allow them to sail along the seafloor.”
More than one million square kilometers of the abyssal Pacific seafloor have been identified for possible seafloor nodule mining. Manganese nodules are a potential source of copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese and rare earth elements — metals used in electrical systems and for electronics like rechargeable batteries and touch screens.
Deep-sea nodule mining is expected to result in the destruction of marine life and seabed habitats over large areas; this destruction has the potential to occur within sites directly mined as well as in adjoining areas impacted by sediment plumes created by mining activities.
The abyssal plains cover 70 percent of the global seabed and are the biggest habitat on earth’s surface.
These seafloor habitats remain among the most poorly studied on the planet because they are remote and require specialist equipment to study. Yet they may harbor an extraordinary diversity of organisms ranging from giant sea cucumbers to novel bacteria.
The research cruise, dubbed the DeepCCZ Expedition, was the first to study the wealth of organisms on seafloor plains and seamounts in areas currently designated as “no-mining areas” in the western CCZ.
A major goal is to determine whether these protected areas are adequate to conserve the biodiversity in the region from the destructive activities of seafloor mining.
The expedition made 12 successful dives with UH’s new remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Lu’ukai, which used robotic arms and deep-sea cameras to photograph and collect animals, manganese nodules and sediments from greater than three miles deep.
More than 100 species of large animals were collected or videotaped at the seafloor, many of which appear to be newly discovered species.
In addition to the ROV, the expedition used a broad suite of new deep-sea technologies to study the biodiversity and ecology of abyssal organisms ranging from bacteria to meter-long fish.
The DeepCCZ Expedition was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the University of Hawai‘i. Project principle investigators include Craig Smith, Jeff Drazen, and Erica Goetze of the University of Hawai‘i, Eric Vetter of Hawaii Pacific University, Matt Church of University of Montana, Andrew Sweetman of Heriot Watt University, UK, Adrian Glover of the Natural History Museum, UK, and Thomas Dahlgren of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Heriot-Watt University is running a Year of Sea campaign, a year-long calendar of events spanning schools, public, academia, industry collaborators, funders and policy makers.
Live Feed from the E/V Nautilus: ECOGIG
Deepwater Mining in Norway
Deep-sea Study Reveals Cause of 2011 Tsu
Major Reductions in Seafloor Marine Life
Powerful MacArtney MERMAC Winch System f
New IUCN App for Marine Invasive Species
OceanWorks International Delivers Additi
Private Sector Participation in Stakehol
European Seafloor Survey Reveals Depth o
Seafloor Experts Publish New View of Zon
New Biodiversity Study Throws Out Contro
Deep-Sea Research Journal Publishes BOEM
Commercial Sector Targeted with GMDSS Pr
New Map Exposes Previously Unseen Detail
November - Geophysical Methods for the M
Horizon 2020 Programme to Develop Revolu
KVH Expands mini-VSAT Broadband Network
Horizon 2020 programme to Develop Revolu
Industry Input Sought on Draft U.N. Seab
Seafloor Sensors Record Possible Eruptio
Ocean Head Count: Scientists Develop New
OceanWorks International Receives 2nd Se
Managing Mining of the Deep Seabed
Public Invited to Join NOAA on Deep Sea
Nova Southeastern University Researcher
Oceans of Knowledge - Exploring the Bene
Exploring Rugged Hills & Turbulent Water
Hydro Group: Exploring the Subsea Cable
Monitoring the Recovery of Deep-Sea Ecos
MBARI Creates New Website Cataloging Tho
Robot-Subs Inform Protection of English
Internet Access will be Possible in Remo
New Seafloor Map Helps Scientists Find N
Mediterranean Seamounts, a Hotspot of Bi
SMD Delivers World’s First Deep Sea Mini
New Calibrated Backscatter Data Enhances
NOAA Explores Protected Areas and Shipwr
A Dynamic Underwater Mining Solution
China Planning its Deep-Sea 'Dream'
First Public Demonstration of Virtual Ro
MacArtney Supplies Winch for Deep-Sea Se
Scientists Discover Largest Sponge Known
New Generation of Seafloor Imaging - Las
Dirty Blizzard' Sent 2010 Gulf Oil Spill
New Lionfish Sightings in Turkey and Cyp
Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Projec
Environmentally Friendly Deep Sea Mining
U.S. and Cuba to Cooperate on Conservati
Exploring Vast “Submerged America,” Mari
Offshore & Deep Sea Mining
Easier Automated Visual Mapping of Biodi
MBARI Robot Automating a 20-year Survey
Underwater Volcano’s Eruption Captured i
New Insights into The Linkage Between St
Withdrawal of Atlantic and Arctic Ocean
Exploring Our Changing Earth, in Real Ti
Seafloor Systems Introduces Its EchoBoat
Marine Researchers Consider the Possibil
Tampa Deep-Sea X-plorers Aiming High and
Benefits of Collaborative Deep Ocean Min
The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) E
First Deep-Sea LED Strobe Using High-Pot
New Recommendation on Submarine Cable Op
Unique Seafloor Data Provides Insight to
FSU Researcher Makes Deep-Sea Coral Reef
New Images from Under Alaska Seafloor Su
High-Resolution Mapping of Deep-Sea Vert
Seafloor Systems Welcomes New Employees
Deep-Sea Mining: Transparent Environment
Exploring Largest Recorded Submarine Exp
Flexible Conduit Specification Guide for
Seabed Mapping Supports Conservation in
Nautilus Minerals Launches Seafloor Prod
Nautilus Minerals’ Begins a New Era in D
Fugro Ultra-Deepwater Surveys for Deep S
Over 12,000 Deep-Sea Marine Creatures Di
Deeper Understanding: Exploring Ocean Po
WHOI Study: Fueling a Deep-Sea Ecosystem
Researchers: Burying CO2 in Deep-sea Sed
Kraken Receives $9 Million Deep-sea Batt
Deriving Seafloor Depth Measurements fro
OSIL Enhances ROV Tools for Deep Sea Min
MBARI Co-Hosts International Deep-Sea Bi
Rapid Data Analysis at Sea Leads to Larg
Understanding Deep-Sea Images with Artif
NOAA Mapping Deepwater Seafloor off Sout
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Explores Deep
Marine Sediments and Deep-Sea Cores Reve
Deep Sea Mining Zone Hosts CO2-Consuming
Seafloor Drilling Reveals Secrets of the
Deep-Ocean Mining Expert Okeanus Present
Studying Marine Biodiversity from Pole t
Warning Over Deep-Sea ‘Gold Rush’
Deep-Sea Storage Terminal System for Ext
International Seabed Authority to Examin
UKHO Contracts TCarta to Map Seafloor Ar
WOC Engages with Sea Bed Mining Event
Draft of Proposed Seabed Mining Regulati
Okeanus to Provide Winch & LARS Equipmen