Heavy Construction News – Newly discovered ‘Casper’ octopod at risk from deep-sea mining — ScienceDaily

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Last spring, researchers made headlines with the discovery of what was surely a new species of octopod, crawling along the seafloor at a record-breaking ocean depth of more than 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles) off Necker Island near Hawaii. The octopod’s colorless and squishy appearance immediately inspired the nickname “Casper.” Now, a report published in Current Biology on December 19 reveals that these ghost-like, deep-sea octopods lay their eggs on the dead stalks of sponges attached to seafloor nodules rich in the increasingly valuable metals used in cell phones and computers.

“Presumably, the female octopod then broods these eggs, probably for as long as it takes until they hatch — which may be a number of years,” says Autun Purser of the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

“The brooding observation is important as these sponges only grow in some areas on small, hard nodules or rocky crusts of interest to mining companies because of the metal they contain,” including manganese, he adds. “The removal of these nodules may therefore put the lifecycle of these octopods at risk.”

Purser explains that the deep-sea manganese nodules form similarly to pearls in an oyster. In a process that could take millions of years, metals gradually build up in rocky layers onto a small starting seed, perhaps a shell fragment or a shark’s tooth.

“These nodules look a bit like a potato, and are made up of rings of different shells of metal-rich layers,” Purser says. “They are interesting to companies as many of the metals contained are ‘high-tech’ metals, useful in producing mobile phones and other modern computing equipment, and most of the land sources of these metals have already been found and are becoming more expensive to buy.”

Purser says that little was known about the creatures found in the deep-sea environments where those attractive metals are found. In a series of recent cruises, the researchers set out to find the organisms that live there and to understand how the ecosystem and animals might be impacted by mining activities.

Their studies have shown that octopods are numerous in manganese crust areas, precisely where miners would hope to extract metals of interest. The mineral-biota association that they observed is a first for any octopod lacking fins (a group known as incirrate octopods), and it puts these captivating octopods, which live their long lives at a slow pace, at particular risk.

“As long-lived creatures, recovery will take a long time and may not be possible if all the hard seafloor is removed,” Purser says. “This would be a great loss to biodiversity in the deep sea and may also have important knock on effects. Octopods are sizable creatures, which eat a lot of other smaller creatures, so if the octopods are removed, the other populations will change in difficult to predict ways.”

Purser says that he and his colleagues continue to study the nodules and their importance to microbes and animals both small and large, including starfish, crabs, and fish.

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Heavy Construction News – Human Remains Found During Highway Project :: Story ID: 34683 :: Construction Equipment Guide

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Much of the area for the project has already been excavated, but work will be put on hold until the site is further assessed.

📅   Fri June 09, 2017 – Midwest Edition

For now, construction will continue in the portion not affected.

For now, construction will continue in the portion not affected.

The discovery of possible human remains has halted MNDot’s Highway 23 project in Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood. Late Wednesday (June 7) afternoon, the city confirmed the area of concern did hold human remains.

Since mid-May, a stretch of roadway on Highway 23 in Fond du Lac has had some issues the project was working to fix.

“The project involves replacing the bridge at Mission Creek. That has caused some flooding in the past,” said Roberta Dwyer, Project Engineer for MnDOT. “The current roadway through this area is a four-lane parkway that will be reduced to two lanes.”

Dwyer says what they ran into in the process would have never crossed her mind — a burial site.

“Unfortunately, one part of the project is a new connection from Highway 23 to 4th Street in the process of the construction we were alerted by the Fond du Lac tribe of a potential burial site in that immediate area,” said Dwyer.

Much of the area has already been excavated, but that work will be put on hold until the site is further assessed.

“The area underwent extensive review and also did receive all the required state and federal permits and unfortunately, this was not discovered during that process,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer says they are working with the tribal community and state archeologists in the process of deciding the next steps. She says evidence they’ve found point to a more than 100-year-old Native American site in that area.

“We do know that it would predate the Mississippi and Lake Superior rail line which came through this area in approximately 1911,” Dwyer added.”We are continuing to do research.”

For now, construction will continue in the portion not affected.

“We will continue construction on the bridge and that is the major part of this project at this time,” Dwyer said.

As for what will happen to the other portion, that is yet to be determined.

The Fond du Lac Tribe has the final say in what is done.

(Source: http://www.wdio.com/news/native-american-burial-site-highway-23-fond-du-lac/4507370/)

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