November 27, 2018
Mineral raw materials are in great demand, which is why previously unused deposits are also coming into focus. Economically interesting quantities of nickel, cobalt, copper and other precious metals are contained in manganese nodules that have formed on the seabed over millions of years. An international project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and involving scientists from Jacobs University Bremen is investigating the environmental effects and risks of a possible mining of these nodules in the deep-sea, 4000 meters below sea level.
The deep-sea is a vast, still little studied area where ecological processes are slow due to low temperatures, darkness, and limited food supply. The ecosystem, therefore, needs centuries to recover from disturbances. Many species have not yet been discovered, and some of the processes that take place in the deep-sea and may have far-reaching effects are not yet fully understood. The chemical balance between the seabed and the water column will also be disturbed by technical intervention.
At the beginning of February 2019, the international team will board the German research vessel "Sonne" in Manzanillo, Mexico. The group of scientists from 32 partner institutions from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Norway, France, Great Britain, Poland, and Jamaica is aiming for the Clarion Clipperton Zone, four days away from the Mexican coast. In this area in the Central Pacific, the researchers will observe and study an industrial deep-sea mining experiment by the Belgian company DEME-GSR.