Deep-Sea Mining Methods and Concerns
Deep-sea mining has increased over the past decade due to demand for precious metals and phosphorus nodule mining, which is the best source for artificial fertilizer. The deposits are mined using either hydraulic pumps or bucket systems that take ore to the surface to be processed. Polymetallic nodules, which contain nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese, are found at depth of 4000 – 6000 meter. Manganese crusts are available at 800-2400 meter. Mainly cobalt, some vanadium, molybdenum and platinum are found in it. Sulfide deposits are found at an average depth of 1400-3700, which contains copper, lead, zinc, some gold and silver. Diamonds are also mined from the seabed. Remotely Operated Vehicles are used equipped with drills to gather samples that are then analyzed for precious metals.
Ships Change Rio Scenery and Worry Environmentalists
Today when you go to any beach in the city of Rio de Janeiro and look offshore, the Cagarras islands aren´t the only thing you´ll see. It is now common to see dozens of ships moored offshore, waiting for a birth in the city port or even waiting for a contract to come up. According to the Rio Port Authority (Companhia Docas do Rio de Janeiro), there has been an increase of 146% in the number of ships that arrive in the Rio port. In 2009, 1,568 ships docked in the Port of Rio, in 2010 this number grew to 2,374 and in 2011 it reached 3,861 ships. Estimates show that this year the increase will be tremendous with something around 10 thousand ships seeking the port of Rio.
WHOI’s Submersible Alvin Gets Upgrades
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions submersible Alvin began undergoing a series of pressure tests at a facility in Annapolis, Maryland this week. The tests are being conducted to see how it reacts to pressures simulating depths from 6,500 to 8,000 meters or 4-5 miles. To build in a safety factor, one test dive will put the sphere under pressure of 12,000 pounds per square inch, simulating a depth of about 8,000 meters, or 5 miles. If all goes according to plan, the new sphere will be transported to WHOI, arriving sometime during the first week of July. There, engineers will reassemble the newest incarnation of Alvin. It will have five viewports, compared with the three that previous Alvins had.
Seaglider to Monitor the Brazilian Pre-salt
Researchers from Coppe/UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) will use data from AUVs,UUVs, floating sensors and satellites in a novel monitoring system, which scientists believe will decrease the time needed in order to identify oil spills. Other than the important aspect of quickly identifying oil spills in the pre-salt, scientists will gain greater knowledge about this little explored region, which is already considered to be the new frontier in the Brazilian O&G industry. The project is named “Projeto Azul” or Blue Project and calls for a US$10 million investment, which will be footed by BG Brasil. The Project was launched and the investment agreement signed last week during the RIO + 20 event.
Small Coastal Dolphins Awarded Protected Area During Rio + 20
The “Restinga de Jurubatiba” National Park has a coastal area 44 km long and is composed of shrub like trees, rich fauna and flora, 18 pristine coastal lagoons that occasionally open up to the sea. However up to now, its 15 hectares did not encompass the sea fronting it. That is precisely where the most endangered group of dolphins in Brazil are found in greater abundance. The Pontoporia blainvillei, commonly known as “Toninha” in these parts, is set to be awarded its first dedicated preservation area in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The idea is to include an area with a depth of up to 30 meters (following the depth curve), along the 44 km coastal area that comprises the National Park. This will add up to a 15 km increase in the protected area.
Research Vessel Embarks on 27th Arctic Expedition
Forty-four expedition participants are on board the research vessel Polarstern in an effort to study an area between Spitsbergen and Greenland. Researchers are from institutions in the US, Germany, Belgium and the UK. Long term oceanographic measurements will be taken during the expedition before traveling to AWI Hausgarten for a two-week biological focus. The largest area of study will be in Fram Strait, the only deep-sea water connection between the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Important measurements regarding how much water is exchanged between these two seas and what salt transport and heat is associated with this process are important pieces in understanding the complex correlations between the Arctic’s atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice.
Aubin Brings its Gel Based Products to Brazil
Although the Scottish chemical technology company Aubin originally specialized as a cement and stimulation additive supplier, it has made strong inroads into the Oil and Gas industry in recent years, with the subsea sector being their main target. The company is based in Ellon, Aberdeenshire and has been in business since 1987. Some 6 years ago they came up with a novel product, which came to be known as “gel with a memory”. It is mainly used for pipe pigging purposes as it can be squashed but returns to its original shape. Named L-gel, the product is also used for risers, which are considered impossible to be pigged. It can go around tight bends and through blocked areas where a conventional pig would probably get stuck.
China makes Successful Dive in Mariana Trench
Jialong, the Chinese manned submersible has brought it’s three occupants back from a dive to a depth of over 19,000 feet in the Mariana Trench setting China’s deep-sea diving record. The dive was the first of six scheduled dives and took three hours to reach the deepest depth of the dive. On board the submersible were it’s three occupants, Cui Weicheng, Yang Bo and Ye Cong. Once the submersible reached the bottom and the ascent was to begin, Jialong dropped it’s iron ballast and began the ascent, which took an hour and forty-five minutes. Each of the six dives which last from eight to twelve hours are designed to test various functions and performances of the submersible at depth.
Scientists Install Autonomous Lab off Norway
Scientists of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research have developed a modular multidisciplinary seafloor observatory. The new modular ocean floor observatory, MoLab of GEOMAR (Germany), consists of one master lander, three satellite landers, three eddy correlation modules and two mooring modules. The MoLab will be able to measure chemical, geological, biological, and physical parameters over the course of several months. The MoLab Installation will be placed over a coldwater coral reef off the coast of northern Noraway. “We want to find out why the corals grow at this specific place and what the impact of climate change on the corals will be “, Dr Olaf Pfannkuche, chief scientist of the cruise that will send MoLab down, said in the press release.
Wave Energy Research in Brazil Taking Off
This month the first serious experiment with wave energy officially begins in Brazil. The first wave energy plant in the country was installed in the northeast state of Ceará, more specifically in the port of Pecém, located 60km from the state capital Fortaleza and will be officially launched during the Rio+20 taking place in Rio de Janeiro. With the Brazilian coastline being 8,000km long, scientists from COPPE/UFRJ, estimate that with wave energy plants up and down the coast the country could produce up to 87 gigawatts of which 20% could conceivably be converted in electricity, this would add up to 17% of the country´s total installed electrical energy capacity.