Seafloor resources

A credible geological, economic, and environmental assessment of the aforementioned geological seafloor resources requires robust estimates on their global distribution and abundance. We will provide these through interdisciplinary research including experiments, theoretical work, numerical simulations, and detailed seafloor imaging and sampling. 

Key research issues include quantification of the ocean’s total inventory of massive sulfide deposits and gas hydrates, site specific studies in different geological settings, biological-geological process understanding of resources formation and interplay with chemosynthetic communities, impact assessment of commercial ore and gas hydrate exploitation on unique ecosystems and marine hazards, exploration and development of international legal frameworks of governance systems for exploiting seafloor resources. For this purpose we plan to develop new 3D transport-reaction models to better understand the formation and distribution of marine metal resources and gas hydrates. The models will be instructed by detailed geological and geophysical seafloor observations and complemented by high-pressure experiments. Taking into account the risks and impacts of seafloor resource exploration, the economic and legal framework will be assessed. Proposals will be developed to improve self-enforcing international environmental agreements, providing incentives for sustainable resource exploitation consistent with existing international law.

Objectives

  • quantification of the ocean’s total inventory of massive sulfide deposits and gas hydrates
  • site specific studies in different geological settings
  • biological-geological process understanding of resources formation and interplay with chemosynthetic communities
  • impact assessment of commercial ore and gas hydrate exploration on unique ecosystems and marine hazards
  • exploration and development of international legal frameworks of governance systems for exploiting seafloor resources