Midwater animal biodiversity that could be affected by deep sea mining. Photo credit: E. Goetze, K. Peijnenburg, D. Perrine, Hawaii Seafood Council (B. Takenaka, J. Kaneko), S. Haddock, J. Drazen, B. Robison, DEEPEND (Danté Fenolio) and MBARI.
Interest in deep-sea mining for copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese and other valuable metals has grown substantially in the last decade and mining activities are anticipated to begin soon. A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, led by University of Hawaii at M?noa researchers, argues that deep-sea mining poses significant risks, not only to the area immediately surrounding mining operations but also to the water hundreds to thousands of feet above the seafloor, threatening vast midwater ecosystems. Further, the scientists suggest how these risks could be evaluated more comprehensively to enable society and managers to decide if and how deep-sea mining should proceed.
Currently 30 exploration licenses cover about 580,000 square miles of the seafloor on the high seas and some countries are exploring exploitation in their own water as well. Thus far, most research assessing the impacts of mining and environmental baseline survey work has focused on the seafloor.
However, large amounts of mud and dissolved chemicals are released during mining and large equipment produces extraordinary noise—all of which travel high and wide. Unfortunately, there has been almost no study of the potential effects of mining beyond the habitat immediately adjacent to extraction activities.
“This is a call to all stakeholders and managers,” said Jeffrey Drazen, lead author of the article and UH Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) professor of oceanography. “Mining is poised to move forward yet we lack scientific evidence to understand and manage the impacts on deep pelagic ecosystems, which constitute most of the biosphere. More research is needed very quickly.”
First look at potential threats
The deep midwaters of the world’s ocean represent more than 90 percent of the biosphere, contain 100 times more fish than the annual global catch, connect surface and seafloor ecosystems, and play key roles in climate regulation and nutrient cycles. These ecosystem services, as well as untold biodiversity, could be negatively affected by mining. The paper provides a first look at potential threats to this system.
“Hawaii is situated in the middle of some of the most likely locations for deep-sea mining,” said Drazen. “The current study shows that mining and its environmental impacts may not be confined to the seafloor thousands of feet below the surface but could threaten the waters above the seafloor, too. Harm to midwater ecosystems could affect fisheries, release metals into food webs that could then enter our seafood supply, alter carbon sequestration to the deep ocean, and reduce biodiversity which is key to the healthy function of our surrounding oceans.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Deep sea mining
- Nevada Lithium Mine Kicks Off a New Era of US Extractionon February 22, 2021 at 3:01 am
The ancient lakebed clays are rich in lithium, and in January, the Bureau of Land Management approved the Thacker Pass lithium mine, an almost two-square-mile open-pit mine that will dig up the nation ...
- Deep seabed mining must benefit all humankindon February 18, 2021 at 9:57 am
As investors set their sights on the mineral resources of the deep seabed, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is developing regulations that will govern their future exploration and possible ...
- Aground Review – What do you want to do today?on February 17, 2021 at 11:44 am
Aground on Xbox is a game that starts off simple and rapidly gets more and more complicated, with a massive amount of different things to do and objectives to achieve. These objectives lead you to new ...
- World - More Research Needed on Deep Sea Mining - Expertson February 16, 2021 at 5:30 pm
Ocean scientists say the importance of providing Pacific governments with accurate data about the potential impacts of deep sea mining cannot be underestimated.
- Robot jellyfish could help service offshore windfarmson February 16, 2021 at 9:42 am
Roboticists and engineers are working to address this problem, searching for new ways to create machines that might help repair, maintain or inspect the undersea components of the growing offshore ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Deep sea mining
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Deep midwaters of the world’s ocean
- A dive to the deepest point of the world's oceanon February 22, 2021 at 1:57 pm
New Zealand deep sea explorer Rob McCallum is about to undertake a journey to the deepest point of the world's ocean. He and Australian colleague Tim Macdonald will be descending in a submersible the ...
- Deep-diving Mystic restored at Navy's undersea museum in Keyporton February 22, 2021 at 1:08 pm
The one-time rescue vessel got a new paint job and other work thanks to $180,000 from the Naval History and Heritage Command.
- Ocean Warming Predicted to Amplify Tropical Rainfall Extremeson February 22, 2021 at 2:03 am
Ocean warming predicted to cause a twofold increase in amplitude of rainfall fluctuations over the tropical Pacific. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most energetic naturally occurring ...
- Ocean row team raising awareness of veterans suicideson February 21, 2021 at 9:00 pm
The Foar From Home ocean row team thought they would be paddling up to Morningstar Marina around noon Saturday. But when navigating the ocean in a sleek row boat, your ...
- A Sea of Garbage: Ocean Floor Landfillson February 21, 2021 at 9:45 am
The Long Journey of Litter to the Seafloor The Messina Strait, a submarine bridge separating the island of Sicily from the Italian Peninsula, is the area with the largest marine litter density worldwi ...