Heavy Construction News – Abundant and diverse ecosystem found in area targeted for deep-sea mining — ScienceDaily

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In a study published in Scientific Reports, scientists discovered impressive abundance and diversity among the creatures living on the seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) — an area in the equatorial Pacific Ocean being targeted for deep-sea mining. The study, lead authored by Diva Amon, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), found that more than half of the species they collected were new to science, reiterating how little is known about life on the seafloor in this region.

“We found that this exploration claim area harbors one of the most diverse communities of megafauna [animals over 2 cm in size] to be recorded at abyssal depths in the deep sea,” said Amon.

The deep sea is where the next frontier of mining will take place. A combination of biological, chemical and geological processes has led to the formation of high concentrations of polymetallic “manganese” nodules on the deep seafloor in the CCZ — an area nearly the size of the contiguous United States. These nodules are potentially valuable sources of copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, among other metals, which has led to an interest in mining this region. All of the potential polymetallic-nodule exploration contracts that have been granted in the Pacific are in this region, according to the International Seabed Authority.

This study, part of the ABYSSLINE Project, was the first to characterize the abundance and diversity of seafloor-dwelling animals, a key component of deep-sea ecosystems, in an exploration claim area leased to UK Seabed Resources Ltd (UK-1) in the eastern portion of the CCZ.

Using a remotely operated vehicle, the research team surveyed the seafloor at four sites within the UK-1 exploration contract area and at a site east of the UK-1 area to estimate abundance and diversity of the ecosystems.

The preliminary data from these surveys showed that more animals live on the seafloor in areas with higher nodule abundance. Further, the majority of the megafaunal diversity also appears to be dependent on the polymetallic nodules themselves, and thus are likely to be negatively affected by mining impacts.

“The biggest surprises of this study were the high diversity, the large numbers of new species and the fact that more than half of the species seen rely on the nodules — the very part of the habitat that will be removed during the mining process,” said Amon.

Exploitation plans are pushing ahead even though knowledge of the seafloor ecosystem in this region is still limited.

“In order to more effectively manage the area and mitigate the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining in the CCZ and within the UK-1 contract area, baseline knowledge of the abundance, diversity, and species ranges of megafauna — a key component of this ecosystem — is essential,” said Craig Smith, oceanography professor at UHM SOEST and ABYSSLINE lead investigator.

The ABYSSLINE team will be publishing many more papers about the seafloor biology of the CCZ, with forthcoming papers from UHM scientists including an atlas of megafauna from the UK-1 exploration contract area, a study documenting extremely high diversity in the community of macrofaunal community (crustaceans, worms, mollusks and other invertebrates between 2 and 0.3 cm in size) in the UK-1 exploration claim area.

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Materials provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Originally posted 2016-07-29 13:25:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Originally posted 2016-12-19 18:45:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter