GeoJournal

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 407–421 | Cite as

The metallic minerals of the Pacific Seafloor

  • Halbach P. 
  • Fellerer R. 
Article

Abstract

The metallic minerals existing on the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean display a great range of variations in their chemical and physical properties. These deposits are considered as an important source of raw material because of their contents of Ni, Cu, Co, and Mn. The two dominant types of deposits are ferromanganese encrustations and nodules. The nodules, being more important with regard to an economic use, are concentrated at great depth of water where the rate of sedimentation is rather low. They accumulate very slowly around nuclei material. The occurrence of nodules and crusts has been established very well in the Pacific Ocean as the best mining sites can be assumed there. The data of exploration show that the most encouraging situation is given in a broad east-west belt situated in the equatorial North Pacific. The conditions forming nodule deposits rich in Ni and Cu and with high nodule coverage are more favourable in this part of the Pacific than in other regions. The different factors controlling the distribution of nodules are considered. The content of metals, its regional variations and trends from the different parts of the Pacific Ocean are discussed. Distinct types of nodules reflect different sources of metals and different environments of growth. Only a small part of the Pacific nodule deposits can be mined because of technical and economical reasons in today's sight. A basic model to encounter nodule occurrences of economical importance and a rough empirical formula to calculate the extension of a potential license area are presented and discussed. The Economic Zones share about 40% of the total size of the Pacific but contain likely only less than 10 % of the economically interesting nodule deposits. As a start of the deep-sea mining technically seems to be possible at the end of the eighties an economical production is able to begin early in the nineties. The annual output of a single mining enterprise and the possible contribution of nodule mining to the world market until 2000 (5 mining enterprises) and 2025 (20 mining enterprises) are regarded. A comparison with the continental resources of metal show that the nodule mining can support only the traditional metal production but not replace in today's sight. The investments of capital required for deep-sea mining are very high. If the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea may lead to unrealistic results being detrimental for further activities, the development of deep-sea mining might to be paralyzed. The technical systems of exploration and mining have to take into account the particular properties of the marine environment. The technical requisites have been developed and successfully tested already. Two different metallurgical processes seem to be economically suitable. 8 consortia or groups at least are known to be engaged in the field of nodule mining.

Keywords

Nodule Pacific Ocean High Nodule Metallic Mineral Nodule Mining 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anonymous: Copper, Nickel, Cobalt Availability. Mining Journal, 293, 7529, 469–471, London (1979)Google Scholar
  2. Boin, U.: Grenzen und Möglichkeiten des Meeresbergbaus für die Gewinnung mineralischer Rohstoffe am Beispel der Manganknollen. Erzmetall 32, 237–240 (1979)Google Scholar
  3. Bonatti, E. and Nayudu, Y.R.: The origin of manganese nodules on the ocean floor. Am. J. Science 263, 17–39 (1965)Google Scholar
  4. Burns, R.G. and Burns, V.M.: Mineralogy. In: Glasby, G.P. (ed.): Marine Manganese Deposits. pp. 185–248, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1977.Google Scholar
  5. Cronan, D.S.: Regional geochemistry of ferromanganese nodules in the World Ocean. In: Horn, D.R. (ed.): Ferromanganese Deposits on the Ocean Floor. N.S.F., Washington DC, 19–30 (1972)Google Scholar
  6. Cronan, D.S.: Deep-Sea Nodules — Distribution and Geochemistry. In: Glasby, G.P. (ed.): Marine Manganese Deposits. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 11–44, 1977.Google Scholar
  7. Fellerer, R.: Prospecting and Evaluation: Remote Sensing Techniques. —Seminar under the Auspices of the European Economic Community for the Benefit of the ACP Experts to the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, Rep. No. 8, 7 pp., Brüssel (1977)Google Scholar
  8. Fellerer, R.: Problems, Advanced Methods and Technological Development in the Field of Polymetallic Nodule Exploration. Ocean Mining Conference in Sandefjord, April 25–26 (1979)Google Scholar
  9. Giovanoli, R. and Brütsch, R.: Über Oxidhydroxide des Mn(IV) mit Schichtengitter. 5. Mitteilung: Stöchiometrie, Austauschverhalten und die Rolle bei der Bildung von Tiefsee-Mangankonkretionen. Chimia 33, 372–376 (1979)Google Scholar
  10. Glasby, G.B.: The role of submarine volcanism in controlling the genesis of marine manganese nodules. Mar. Biol. A. Rev. 11, 27–44 (1973)Google Scholar
  11. Glasby, G.P.: Manganese nodules in the South Pacific: A review. N.Z.J. Geol. Geophys. 19, 707–736 (1976)Google Scholar
  12. Halbach, P., Özkara, M. and Hense, J.: The influence of metal content on the physical and mineralogical properties of pelagic manganese nodules. Mineral. Deposita 10, 397–411 (1975)Google Scholar
  13. Halbach, P., Özkara, M. and Rehm, E.: Untersuchungen von Manganknollen und Sedimentproben der VA 13/1. Ergebnisse der Manganknollenfahrt VA 13/1 (Zentr. Pazifischer Ozean: 1976). Fachlicher Bericht, Hannover (BGR), 35 pp. (1977)Google Scholar
  14. Halbach, P., Rehm, E. and Marchig, V.: Distribution of Si, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Co, Zn, Pb, Mg, and Ca in grain-size fractions of sediment samples from a manganese nodule field in the Central Pacific Ocean. Mar. Geol. 29, 237–252 (1979)Google Scholar
  15. Halbach, P. and Özkara, M.: Morphological and geochemical classification of deep-sea ferromanganese nodules and its genetical interpretation. Colloque Internationaux du CNRS No. 289: La genese des nodules de manganese. CNRS Ed., 77–89, Paris (1979)Google Scholar
  16. Heath, G.R., Moore, T.C., Somayayula, B.L.K. and Cronan, P.S.: Sediment budget in a deep-sea core from the Central Equatorial Pacific. J. Mar. Res. 28, 225–234 (1970)Google Scholar
  17. Heye, D. and Marchig, V.: Relationship between the growth rate of manganese nodules from the Central Pacific and their chemical constitution. Mar. Geol. 23, M 19-M 25 (1977)Google Scholar
  18. Horn, D.R., Horn, B.M. and Delach, M.N.: Ferromanganese Deposits of the North Pacific. Tech. Rep. Off. Int. Decade of Ocean Expl. 1, 78 pp., Washington DC, 1972.Google Scholar
  19. Horn, D.R., Delach, M.N. and Horn, B.M.: Metal content of ferromanganese deposits of the oceans. Techn. Rep. Off. Int. Decade of Ocean Expl. 3, 51 pp. Washington DC, 1973.Google Scholar
  20. König, D.: Vertikale Förderung von Manganknollen. — In: Marine Rohstoffe und Meerestechnik, Vol. 1/Marine Rohstoffgewinnung. 7. Seminar Meerestechnik TU Clausthal/Tu Berlin (Wiss. Leitg. P. Halbach), 150–172, Essen (1979)Google Scholar
  21. Kolbe, H. and Siapno, B.: Manganese Nodules — Further Resources of Nickel and Cooper on the Deep Ocean Floor. Geoforum 20, 63–80 (1974)Google Scholar
  22. Ku, T.L. and Broecker, W.S.: Radiochemical studies on manganese nodules of deep-sea origin. Deep-Sea Res. 16, 625–637 (1969)Google Scholar
  23. Liekefett, K.: Rechtliche Regelungen für den Tiefseebergbau. In: Marine Rohstoffe und Meerestechnik, Vol. 1/Marine Rohstoffgewinnung. 7. Seminar Meerestechnik TU/Clausthal/TU Berlin (Wiss. Leitg. P. Halbach), 17–20, Essen (1979)Google Scholar
  24. Mero, J.L.: The Mineral Resources of the Sea. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 312 pp., 1965.Google Scholar
  25. Mez, B.: Bedeutung des Meeresbergbaues für die zukünftige Rohstoffversorgung. In: Marine Rohstoffe und Meerestechnik, Vol. 1/Marine Rohstoffgewinnung. 7. Seminar Meerestechnik TU Clausthal/TU Berlin (Wiss. Leitg. P. Halbach), 21–38, Essen (1979)Google Scholar
  26. Murray, J. and Renard, A.F.: Deep-sea deposits. Rep. Sci. Results Expl. Voyage Challenger, 525 pp., 1891.Google Scholar
  27. Stalp, H.-G.: Erschöpfbare Resourcen: Entwicklungen des Meeresbergbaus und die Auswirkungen auf die Rohstoffmärkte. Unpubl. paper presented at “Arbeitstagung des Vereins für Sozialpolitik Sept. 24–25, Mannheim (1979), 27 pp.Google Scholar
  28. Summerhayes, C.P.: Manganese nodules from the south-western Pacific. N.Z. J. Geol. Geophys. 10, 1372–1381 (1967)Google Scholar
  29. Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea: Informal Composite Negotiating Text, Revision 1. A/Conf. 62/WP 10/Rev. 1, United Nations, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Tytgat, D.: Legal Sea-Bed Problems and Marine Raw Materials. —In: Marine Rohstoffe und Meerestechnik, Vol. 1/Marine Rohstoffgewinnung. — 7. Seminar Meerestechnik TU Clausthal/Tu Berlin (Wiss. Leitg. P. Halbach), 2–16, Essen (1979)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Halbach P. 
    • 1
  • Fellerer R. 
    • 2
  1. 1.Technical University of ClausthalClausthal-ZellerfeldGermany
  2. 2.Arbeitsgemeinschaft meerestechnisch gewinnbare Rohstoffe (AMR)FrankfurtGermany

Personalised recommendations