Marine Mineral Resources

Marine Mineral Resources

Marine Mineral Resources

Marine Mineral Resources


During the past century, scientists, world statesmen, and international entrepreneurs have become increasingly aware of the potential of the oceans as a source of minerals. This book provides an authoritative picture of the current state of marine mineral extraction. A major work of reference, it will be essential reading for both those engaged in maritime studies and for professional organisations involved in the extraction of underwater minerals.


On the bottom of the sea there
is the glitter of gold
Rubies and diamonds and treasures untold


Before the dawn of history, ocean space and ocean waters were resources to humankind. Fishing in prehistoric times occupied most coastal peoples, providing them with fishbones, shells, sharks’ teeth, corals, and pearls for tools, for weapons, and for adornment. Many of these gifts of the sea continue in use today.

Merchants and admirals of the distant past knew well the waters of the Mediterranean, the North Sea, and the East and South China Seas. Phoenician, Norse, or Chinese sailors traversing these seas today might soon recognise their twentieth-century counterparts. But they would not so quickly understand the herculean structures (oil production platforms) that jut from these waters. Neither would they recognise strangely shaped vessels (oil exploration rigs) that churn ahead with no familiar cargo or instruments of war. When beaching their crafts, these sailors might stand in utter puzzlement to view serpent-like structures (oil pipelines) emerging from the sea on to the shore. If our ancient mariners were to sail from their busy coasts to venture into the solitude of deep-sea waters of the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, they could observe craft moving slowly along, seeming to seine for fish. To their surprise, they might see the ships’ towing apparatus disgorge not wriggling, shiny creatures of the water but lifeless lumps of ‘black gold’ (ferromanganese nodules) from the deep seabed.

Although the ocean still functions as a transport mode and a food source, and although miners long have extracted minerals from beneath the sea, government leaders, industrialists, and scientists only recently have recognised the ocean’s mineral-wealth potential. Pessimistic observers, however, might suggest that these mineral treasures are better described as ‘fools’ gold’. Which view is reality? Or, does the truth lie somewhere between?

With the depletion of many high-grade mineral reserves during . . .

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