Deep-sea misconceptions reduce seabed-mining effects


A diverse, dense coral community was present throughout the dive at Dibsey Seamount. Many colonies were very large, indicating a stable environment for many years. Sincerely: NOAA OER

A new publication on the effects of deep-sea mining by 13 prominent deep-sea biologists, University of Hawaii, led by Myna Oceanography professor Craig Smith, has attempted to clear up scientific misconceptions that have led to the potential impacts of commercial operations Has been incorrectly assessed. To extract minerals from seabed.


Deep seas, ocean depths are less than 650 feet (200 m), constitute more than 90% of the biosphere, disturbing the most remote and extreme ecosystems on the planet, and biodiversity and ecosystem services of global importance. Supports. Interest in deep-sea mining for copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese and other valuable metals has increased considerably over the past decade and mining activities are expected to begin soon.

“As a team of deep-sea scientists, we were horrified by the misconceptions in the scientific literature that discuss the potential effects of ocean mining,” Smith said. “We found a lack of mining footprints and sensitivity to deep-sea ecosystems and poor understanding of biodiversity, and their ability to overcome mining impacts. All authors felt it was important to overcome misconceptions and deep and It was necessary to uncover known and unknown things. Seabed mining effect.

In addition to the impacts of mining on ecosystems in water above extraction activities, as detailed in another UH-led study published last month, Smith and co-authors emphasize deep-sea mining impacts on seafloor where habitat And the community will be permanently destroyed by mining

Deep-sea misconceptions reduce seabed-mining effects

A dense pink coral garden was found at Mendellsohn Seamount, about 1800 meters away. Many colonies were exceptionally large. Sincerely: NOAA OER

“The bottom line is that many deep-sea ecosystems will be very sensitive to ocean mining, likely to be affected on a much larger scale than predicted by mining interests, and with local and regional extinction potential for the species There is a possibility of loss of biodiversity., Smith said.

The scope of mining impacts from full-scale mining will not be well understood, unless full-scale mining has been conducted for years. According to the authors, the geographic scale and ecosystem sensitivity to mining disturbances that persist for decades cannot be studied effectively or effectively.

“All the simulations conducted so far do not come close to replicating the spatial scale, intensity and duration of full-scale mining,” Smith said. “Furthermore, computer models use ecosystem sensitivity derived from shallow-water communities, which command higher levels of turbidity and sediment burial (mining-type disturbances) under natural conditions than deep sea communities intended for mining. Experience. ”

Deep-sea misconceptions reduce seabed-mining effects

Sea cucumber about 3 miles deep (5000 m). Sincerely: Deep CCZ Project

The majority of planned deep-sea mining will be concentrated in the Pacific Ocean, near the Hawaiian Islands and also near the Pacific Island countries. The Hawaiian Islands and Pacific Island nations are particularly likely to suffer from any negative environmental impacts, but may benefit financially from deep-sea mining, which necessitates understanding the trade of such mining.

“Polymetallic-nodule mining (as currently planned) may eventually impact an area of ​​500,000 square kilometers in the deep sea in the Pacific, an area in Spain with perhaps the largest environmental footprint of a single extractive activity for humans , “Smith said. “Addressing the misconceptions and knowledge gaps related to deep sea mining is the first step towards effective management of deep sea mining.”

Researchers aim to work closely with regulators and society to help deep-sea mining and emphasize the need to move slowly along seabed mining until the impact is fully appreciated .


Scientists urged caution, further assessment of ecological impacts on deep sea mining


more information:
Craig R. Smith et al, underestimation of seabed-mining impacts due to deep-sea misconceptions, Trends in Ecology and Development (2020). DOI: 10.1016 / j.tree.2020.07.002

Provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa

Quotes: Seabed-mining effects (2020, August 7) ​​have been underestimated due to deep-sea misconceptions. Https://phys.org/news/2020-08-deep-sea-misconception-underestroation-seabed-mining-impacts .html from 8 August 2020

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