Why are countries laying claim to the deep-sea floor?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-40248866

Around the world, countries are claiming obscure and difficult-to-reach tracts of the deep-sea floor, far from the surface and further still from land. Why?

There is a long history of claiming newly discovered territories, of planting the flag at far outposts of the known world.

In the early 20th Century, explorers raced to the South Pole, their sponsors keen to benefit from future exploitation of these unknown areas.

In 1945, President Harry S Truman broke with convention to claim the entire continental shelf off the US.

And, in 2007, Russia used a submersible to plant a flag at the North Pole.

All shared a common motivation – the hunt for new resources – and there is now a new frontier: the deep-sea floor.

Exploration offers the prospect of finding huge amounts of previously untapped resources, but serious environmental concerns remain.

Only 5% of the deep-sea floor, which covers about 60% of the Earth’s surface, has been properly explored.

Light penetrates only the top layers, and the vast, deep oceans are pitch-black, with temperatures just a few degrees above freezing point.

Each time it is explored – by mini-submarines tethered to surface ships – strong lights pick out fragile structures and animals that have never been seen before.

But countries and companies are turning their eyes towards its minerals, potentially worth billions of pounds.

Already, there have been significant advances in the technology required to discover, map and mine them – with robotic equipment built to operate at great depths.

There are significant deposits scattered over the plains of the ocean’s deepest abysses and encrusted on the rocky outcrops of underwater mountains.

They are also on active and extinct hydrothermal vents – the fissures in the planet’s surface from which hot water spouts.

Deep-sea mining, an idea dating back to the 1960s, could now happen within 10 years.

It has been made a possibility by population growth, economic growth and concerns over the supply and security of minerals on land.

Copper, nickel and cobalt can all be found at high concentrations, in mineral deposits, as can the so-called “critical” metals.

These include the rare earth elements used in a range of new technologies such as memory chips, LEDs and batteries for electric vehicles.

It is thought the mountains of the Pacific alone could contain about 22 times more tellurium – which is used in solar panels – than the known land-based reserves combined.

At present there is no exploitation of deep-sea mineral resources, only exploration.

The UK – through a partnership between the government and a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin UK – is among countries exploring one of the main areas, the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, which stretches across the Pacific Ocean for thousands of miles between Mexico and Hawaii.

There are serious challenges to overcome at this remote location.

———-

“Only 5% of the deep-sea floor, which covers about 60% of the Earth’s surface, has been properly explored.”

the last bastion?

“Copper, nickel and cobalt can all be found at high concentrations, in mineral deposits, as can the so-called “critical” metals.”

“critical” metals used for our smart phones eh? 🙂

“It is thought the mountains of the Pacific alone could contain about 22 times more tellurium – which is used in solar panels – than the known land-based reserves combined.”

401

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~ by seeker401 on July 4, 2017.

9 Responses to “Why are countries laying claim to the deep-sea floor?”

  1. off topic..

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    1200 spam comments in 12 hours..wtf

  2. By the way, old news as back in April it was reported, but saw it while browsing Rosnefts’ other activities:

    “Rosneft started drilling of the Tsentralno-Olginskaya-1 well at the Khatangsky license area. The well is the northernmost at the Russian Arctic shelf. President of Russia Vladimir Putin launched exploration drilling via video link-up with Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin who was on the shore of the Khatanga bay.

    “Preliminary estimates suggest that the Laptev Sea’s total potential geological resources could come to 9.5 billion tonnes of oil equivalent.

    “Starting from 2012 Rosneft investments in Arctic shelf development amounted to about RUB 100 bln. The Company plans to maintain the pace of its activities, and investment volumes are to grow two and a half times up to RUB 250 bln in the period from 2017 to 2021.

    “In report to the President [Putin], Igor Sechin set out the priorities in the Company’s working plans at the Russian offshore: «We started working in the Kara Sea in 2014, acting on your instructions, and discovered a very important field – the Kara oil and gas-bearing province. This year, after starting on the Khatanga block, we will be drilling in the Black Sea. Next year, we will drill in the Barents Sea, and in 2019, we will return to the Kara oil and gas field, and will continue our work in the eastern Arctic».”

    https://www.rosneft.com/press/today/item/186081/

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