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Going Deep: Cautious Steps toward Seabed Mining.

Schmidt CW - Environ. Health Perspect. (2015)

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

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The deep ocean is also essential to the earth’s biosphere—it regulates global temperatures, stores carbon, provides habitat for countless species, and cycles nutrients for marine food webs... Currently stressed by pollution, industrial fishing, and oil and gas development, these cold, dark waters now face another challenge: mining... Duncan Currie, a legal and political advisor with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, says countries and corporations are taking a long view on seabed mining, anticipating mineral shortages and higher prices that will eventually make the practice cost-effective... Desirable minerals are found in three types of seabed deposits... These plumes could have a variety of potential impacts... Plumes released near the surface may reduce light penetration and temperature and thus impair plankton growth, with rippling effects on the food web... Van Dover points out that copper is an antifouling agent—“if it’s mobilized in the water,” she says, “then organisms will have to fight off the effects of the contamination. ” Plumes in some locations could have lesser impacts... According to Grogan, modeling suggests that plumes generated from mining Solwara 1 will deposit within 600 m of the extraction zone, making it “a very small off-site impact. ” She adds that Solwara 1 is located next to an active volcano, which produces a significant plume of its own, reducing the impact of mining on organisms that have already adapted to these eruptions... High pressure and low temperatures might influence the bioavailability of toxic elements, she says, and deep-sea species may be either less or more susceptible to plume toxicity than species in shallower waters. “The tolerance difference could go both ways,” Mestre explains. “For instance, SMS species are adapted to chemicals released by black smokers at levels that could be toxic to shallow-water species... Also in July, Smith and 10 colleagues published a paper in Science recommending a precautionary approach to seabed mining that would emphasize the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and calling on the ISA to “[suspend] further approval of exploration contracts (and not approve exploitation contracts) until MPA networks are designed and implemented for each target region. ” Smith argues that MPA networks are needed to guarantee that a significant proportion of the global deep-sea ecosystem remains intact and viable... If exploitation ultimately succeeds in these areas, he says, then deep-sea mining is likely to experience a huge amount of growth... The hope among scientists and other environmental stakeholders is that this growth is matched by successful efforts to protect key habitats... Van Dover says these efforts might focus especially on protecting thermal vent communities, which she describes as “beautiful, rare, and important. ” Smith views potential extinctions in moral terms, pointing out that “the deep sea is raw material for evolution—large-scale extinctions would profoundly affect what makes our planet unique. ” And like other endangered habitats, such as tropical rainforests, the deep ocean likely harbors untapped biological resources that might one day be used to develop new drugs and other products that benefit humankind. “We’re talking about the largest and least understood biome on earth,” says Steiner. “And right now very little of it is protected. ”

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Polymetallic nodules—seen here with Psychropotes longicauda, a species of sea cucumber—dot the abyssal plains that cover nearly two-thirds of the earth’s surface. These are some of the several billion metric tons of recoverable nodules estimated to lie in the Clarion–Clipperton Fracture Zone.© Lenaick LEP (image license available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode)
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d35e187: Polymetallic nodules—seen here with Psychropotes longicauda, a species of sea cucumber—dot the abyssal plains that cover nearly two-thirds of the earth’s surface. These are some of the several billion metric tons of recoverable nodules estimated to lie in the Clarion–Clipperton Fracture Zone.© Lenaick LEP (image license available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode)


Going Deep: Cautious Steps toward Seabed Mining.

Schmidt CW - Environ. Health Perspect. (2015)

Polymetallic nodules—seen here with Psychropotes longicauda, a species of sea cucumber—dot the abyssal plains that cover nearly two-thirds of the earth’s surface. These are some of the several billion metric tons of recoverable nodules estimated to lie in the Clarion–Clipperton Fracture Zone.© Lenaick LEP (image license available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode)
© Copyright Policy - public-domain
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4559946&req=5

d35e187: Polymetallic nodules—seen here with Psychropotes longicauda, a species of sea cucumber—dot the abyssal plains that cover nearly two-thirds of the earth’s surface. These are some of the several billion metric tons of recoverable nodules estimated to lie in the Clarion–Clipperton Fracture Zone.© Lenaick LEP (image license available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode)

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

The deep ocean is also essential to the earth’s biosphere—it regulates global temperatures, stores carbon, provides habitat for countless species, and cycles nutrients for marine food webs... Currently stressed by pollution, industrial fishing, and oil and gas development, these cold, dark waters now face another challenge: mining... Duncan Currie, a legal and political advisor with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, says countries and corporations are taking a long view on seabed mining, anticipating mineral shortages and higher prices that will eventually make the practice cost-effective... Desirable minerals are found in three types of seabed deposits... These plumes could have a variety of potential impacts... Plumes released near the surface may reduce light penetration and temperature and thus impair plankton growth, with rippling effects on the food web... Van Dover points out that copper is an antifouling agent—“if it’s mobilized in the water,” she says, “then organisms will have to fight off the effects of the contamination. ” Plumes in some locations could have lesser impacts... According to Grogan, modeling suggests that plumes generated from mining Solwara 1 will deposit within 600 m of the extraction zone, making it “a very small off-site impact. ” She adds that Solwara 1 is located next to an active volcano, which produces a significant plume of its own, reducing the impact of mining on organisms that have already adapted to these eruptions... High pressure and low temperatures might influence the bioavailability of toxic elements, she says, and deep-sea species may be either less or more susceptible to plume toxicity than species in shallower waters. “The tolerance difference could go both ways,” Mestre explains. “For instance, SMS species are adapted to chemicals released by black smokers at levels that could be toxic to shallow-water species... Also in July, Smith and 10 colleagues published a paper in Science recommending a precautionary approach to seabed mining that would emphasize the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and calling on the ISA to “[suspend] further approval of exploration contracts (and not approve exploitation contracts) until MPA networks are designed and implemented for each target region. ” Smith argues that MPA networks are needed to guarantee that a significant proportion of the global deep-sea ecosystem remains intact and viable... If exploitation ultimately succeeds in these areas, he says, then deep-sea mining is likely to experience a huge amount of growth... The hope among scientists and other environmental stakeholders is that this growth is matched by successful efforts to protect key habitats... Van Dover says these efforts might focus especially on protecting thermal vent communities, which she describes as “beautiful, rare, and important. ” Smith views potential extinctions in moral terms, pointing out that “the deep sea is raw material for evolution—large-scale extinctions would profoundly affect what makes our planet unique. ” And like other endangered habitats, such as tropical rainforests, the deep ocean likely harbors untapped biological resources that might one day be used to develop new drugs and other products that benefit humankind. “We’re talking about the largest and least understood biome on earth,” says Steiner. “And right now very little of it is protected. ”

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus