8:30am - 9:00am Invited Session KeynoteTopics: 1.17 Marine mineral deposits: Formation, exploration, and environmental impacts of human activities
Advancements in Deep-Sea Mineral Exploration and Legal Aspects of Deep-Sea Mining
Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, Germany
The presentation provides an overview of BGR's deep-sea mineral resource exploration and informs on recent developments in deep-sea mining. Metals such as copper, nickel and cobalt play a vital role in the production of regenerative energies and high-tech electronic products. Currently, these metals are solely extracted from land sources, but increasing global demand has spurred interest in deep-sea deposits located in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Polymetallic nodules, cobalt-rich manganese crusts and massive sulphides found at water depths of 1 to 5 kilometers are seen as potential sources of such raw materials. Germany, as an industrial country with high raw material demands, heavily relies on metal imports. As a potential measure to reduce dependence and secure supply, Germany has invested actively in the exploration of marine mineral deposits and their environment in the eastern Pacific and southwestern Indian Ocean during the last two decades. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is currently negotiating regulations for the mining of these resources (“Mining Code”). At the moment, the focus is on adopting regulations for polymetallic nodule mining, possibly by 2024. However, companies could potentially already submit mining applications today, to be considered by the Council despite the absence of a full set of binding regulations. Significant progress has recently been made in overcoming the technical challenges of mining the deep sea. Several contractors have successfully tested mining systems and are currently monitoring the resultant impacts on the environment and the biodiversity.
9:15am - 9:30amTopics: 1.17 Marine mineral deposits: Formation, exploration, and environmental impacts of human activities
Systematic variations in trace element composition of pyrites from the Xunmei hydrothermal field (26°S), Mid-Atlantic Ridge
1Kiel University, Germany; 2Chengdu University of Technology, China; 3First Institute of Oceanography - Qingdao, China; 4Benha University, Egypt; 5GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research - Kiel, Germany
Two zoned inactive chimney samples from the SMAR 26°S (Xunmei) hydrothermal field were studied petrographically and by in-situ LA-ICP-MS analysis. Morphologically different pyrites precipitated with increasing temperatures from the outermost chimney wall to intermediate zone, then to the inner zone, and finally to interstice pore fillings which represents the late mature stage. The distribution of trace elements in pyrites across the chimney indicates a strong dependence on time, temperature, and associated sulfide minerals. The variation of trace elements in different paragenetic stages of pyrite reveals that the hydrothermal system most likely evolved from low-temperature low-chloride liquid-dominated fluids (enriched in Zn, Cd, Tl, Ag, Pb, Mn, Mo, and V) to higher temperature, vapor-dominated fluids (Cu, Au, Te, and Bi), probably representing magmatic volatiles, and then to high-temperature fluids (Co and Se). In the waning stage of the hydrothermal system, circulating hot fluids in auxiliary conduits were depleted in most trace elements. LA-ICP-MS time-depth profiles reveal that Co, Se, and Mo are present mainly in lattice substitution, whereas Cu, Zn, Cd, Tl, Ag, Te, and Bi are related to micro-/nano-inclusions. Profiles for As, Pb, Au, and Sb can be either smooth or irregular, indicating both lattice substitutions and inclusions. Adsorbed films on pyrites control the distribution of V and Mo. To conclude, the behavior of trace elements is strongly associated with the fluid evolution during chimney growth, where trapping of micro-/nano-inclusions and surface adsorption are seen more frequently at the low-temperature stage, whereas lattice substitutions are dominant at elevated temperature stages.