deep sea mining

Topics: Mineral, Ore, Ocean Pages: 10 (2442 words) Published: October 10, 2014
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Deep Ocean Mining
Part 2
Deep ocean mining is an alternative to land mining in search of minerals such as copper, gold, manganese or cobalt among other minerals. The minerals on land are being depleted owing to the increasing demand for these minerals, and this makes the deep sea bed an alternative to the exploitation of minerals. The fact that the water bodies cover a huge part of earth’s surface makes deep sea mining even more viable option. It is a discussion about deep ocean mining, and it will cover the process of deep sea mining, the impacts of this process, the challenges and the possible alternatives to deep ocean mining. The mineral deposits found in the ocean bed are more than those found on land, let the fact that there has been more exploitation on the land than there has been on the ocean bed alone. It is because deposits found in the seams spread along the sea floor. Here, the hydrothermal vents eject rich concentrations of metals and minerals. The geysers found underneath eject fluids that exhibit temperatures greater than 600 degrees Celsius. The moment these fluids hit icy water, the minerals are precipitated, and they fall onto the ocean floor. The deposits are of greater value since they can yield up to ten times the minerals on land. They exist in the form of rocks and normally referred to as nodules.Their concentration is what makes the deep ocean minerals more valuable than those found on land. When comparing the ocean floor mining to land mining, ocean mining is considered cheaper, cleaner and more environmentally friendly than land mining. It could be because there is less land for adjusting the bodies so as to allow for the extraction (Steele, Thorpe and Turekian 304). The process involved in deep ocean mining involves the use of a dredger and the process referred to as dredging. It is a situation for excavating the water bodies, and sucking minerals from the sea floor. They use remotely operated vehicles which are submerged in water till they reach the ocean bed. The dredge then brings the materials to the surface, in most cases into a large boat that is positioned directly above it. The workers or the machinery separate the metal ores from the gravel after which the sediments are immediately returned to the ocean floor. The process involves the use of too much force which can interfere with the tectonic forces of the earth in the process of dredging. Extraction takes two forms: continuous line bucket whereby there are continuous buckets that scoop materials and delivers them to the surface. The other form is the hydraulic suction system in which long hoses that extend deep down to the ocean bed and suck the materials from there to the surface while another hose returns the excess materials to the ocean floor (Cleland 24). Some of the impacts of deep ocean mining include distortion of the oceanic life by jeopardizing the communities in such places. It alters their habitats prior to the systems being fully explored. During the mining process, the dredging machine digs up the ocean floor which destroys the animal habitats, eventually killing the fish and the invertebrate species. Such kind of damages can be very difficult to repair and in most cases the repair is next to impossible. Another impact is the effect of the sediment plumes. Once these sediments are returned to the ocean surface they form precipitates in the water which results into the reduction of the amount of light reaching the marine plants for photosynthesis. With time, such plants tend to die making the water unconducive for plant survival. They also have the potential of infusing dissolved heavy metals in the water that pileup in the food chain. The environmental damage it causes is that the animals that are displaced in the process of mining will either...

References: Cleland, J. (2009). Down in the deep, deep ocean!. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke Pub.
United States. (1984). Deep seabed mining: Draft environmental impact statement. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service.
Steele, J. H., Thorpe, S. A., & Turekian, K. K. (2001). Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Roberts, C. (2012). The ocean of life: The fate of man and the sea. New York: Viking.
Rick, T. C., & Erlandson, J. (2008). Human impacts on ancient marine ecosystems: A global perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press
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