Minerals from the Seafloor

IMG_3748By Lee Sherman

TO MEET THE WORLD’S DEMAND FOR MINERALS, oil and geothermal energy, humans are now looking toward the seabed. Miles-deep deposits of manganese, iron, nickel, cobalt and copper already have spurred exploration by mining companies. The next step, lowering heavy machinery onto the ocean floor, is just around the corner, says OSU researcher Andrew Thurber. He cautions that the deep ocean’s role in Earth’s “biological pump” is just one of countless services it provides to the planet. “The deep ocean is very closely linked to the function of the surface of the Earth,” Thurber says. “It’s where the nutrients fueling our most productive fisheries come from, and also acts as the major sink for carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.”