Researchers Investigate Mineral Deposits In The Deep

On 28 October 2016, the Royal Research ship (RRS) James Cook embarked on an expedition to discover new sources of the rare metals critical for low carbon technologies. HR Wallingford scientists, Jon Taylor and Neil Crossouard are on board the research vessel as it heads south west from the Canary Islands to the Tropic Sea mount, where a forty day investigation will use robotic submarines, autonomous seafloor instruments and drilling to answer questions about what controls the formation of marine mineral deposits on the floor of the North East Atlantic.

E-tech elements, such as cobalt and tellurium, which are essential for emerging renewable energy technologies, are in short supply.  Some of these E-tech elements are highly concentrated in seafloor deposits. For example, the greatest levels of enrichment of tellurium are found in seafloor ferromanganese crusts which form on some underwater mountains. 

HR Wallingford is part of the MarineE-tech partnership, a £4.2 million ($5.3mln) research program led by the UK National Oceanography Center, that will investigate the origin and formation of these crusts, and study the potential environmental impacts that could arise from the extraction of these minerals.

The MarineE-tech team’s research expedition to the northeast Atlantic seeks to discover what controls the richness of the deep-sea ferromanganese deposits which arise on seamounts, assess novel exploration methods and crucially, evaluate the potential effects of disturbance of the....

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