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Map sheds light on ocean floor

The world’s first map to show a comprehensive summary of known offshore mineral occurrences has been released for Australia’s vast marine jurisdiction.

The map shows the known seafloor locations of minerals, such as copper, gold, silver and diamond, compiled from survey information gathered over many decades.

The result of a major research initiative between the CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship, and Geoscience Australia - together with CSIRO Exploration and Mining and the State and Territory Geological Surveys ¬- the map was launched today by the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Ian Macfarlane, and the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop.

“The Australian Offshore Mineral Locations map provides the first spatial understanding of mineral locations on the seafloor around Australia and is a wonderful example of collaboration and partnerships producing great results,” says CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Geoff Garrett.

“The project is the result of an initiative from the Wealth from Oceans Flagship working with its partners to promote knowledge and growth in a new and very exciting industry. This map is the outcome of a truly national and integrated approach.

“At present, land exploration and mineral production is a massive industry, however, Australia is only beginning to look at similar operations on the seafloor. There is now exciting potential for a possible future marine minerals industry.”

Wealth from Oceans Flagship Director, Craig Roy, says that whereas Australia is the first country in the world to develop an offshore map of this type, its development has, perhaps, not been before its time.

“Our earliest recorded terrestrial resource map was produced in 1799 so it has taken over two centuries to refocus our attention,” Mr Roy says.

“By building a picture of the seabed minerals in tandem with our ecological knowledge of these areas, we can ensure that we address any activities in a responsible manner, taking into account the long-term implications for our economy and environment.

“The release of this map is an important and critical first step in developing public, governmental and industry interest in our offshore minerals.

“The mission for the Flagship is to combine the scientific expertise and resources from across Australia’s research community, not just CSIRO, to provide Australia with research capabilities previously not achievable to the community and industry. This map is a great example of this collaborative approach.”

Sylvia Bell | EurekAlert!
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