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Deep Sea Mining: Modeling, Observing and Quantifying Risks

Our research aims to address the outstanding questions surrounding deep-sea mining sediment plumes as this underpins all understanding and prediction of the biological response to deep-sea mining activities, and furthermore provides the foundation for the design of marine protected areas and other regulations. Limited resources have been available to understand this issue, which policymakers have identified as being of urgent need. Over the past fifteen years, only two sets of model results have been obtained (one from a European researcher and another from a European contractor) and they differ significantly in their predictions.

We plan to develop state-of-the-art numerical models of sediment plume transport that can be applied to regions such as the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ), the mineral-rich and biodiverse region between Hawaii and Mexico in the Pacific Ocean where the majority of mining claims have been made, and/or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Cook Islands, as they are currently the most active small island nation considering the possibility of deep-sea mining.