Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Undersea Vehicles to Study Formation of Gold and Other Precious Metals On the Pacific Ocean Floor

17.07.2006
An international team of scientists will explore the seafloor near Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean later this month with remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles, investigating active and inactive hydrothermal vents and the formation of mineral deposits containing copper, gold and other commercially valuable minerals.

The cruise is a joint expedition between Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Nautilus Minerals Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia, a mining exploration company that holds exploration leases in the Bismarck Sea within the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea. Nautilus is the first firm to commercially explore the ocean floor for economically viable massive sulfide deposits, and is interested in understanding the size and mineral content of the seafloor massive sulfide systems.

The joint expedition includes a 32-day WHOI research program funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation to the Pacmanus vent sites in the Eastern Manus Basin. The remotely operated vehicle Jason will be used to survey and map the vent areas around an Ocean Drilling Program hole drilled in 2000. Nautilus will fund an additional 10-day program to explore and sample the Vienna Woods sulfide prospects on the Manus Ridge, northwest of the Pacmanus study area.

Geophysicist Maurice Tivey of WHOI will head the 42-day expedition, which begins July 21 from Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, aboard the research vessel Melville, operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Tivey and geochemists Wolfgang Bach of the University of Bremen (previously at WHOI) and Jeff Seewald and Meg Tivey of WHOI will map, collect samples and take high-resolution images of the seafloor at several locations within the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea. The cruise ends September 1 at Suva, Fiji.

Tivey and his co-investigators are interested in the geochemistry and structure of the seafloor and the formation of mineral deposits along mid-ocean and back-arc ridge systems, where new ocean crust is formed. The team will use the remotely operated vehicle Jason and the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE), both developed and operated by WHOI and veterans of many expeditions to hydrothermal vent sites around the world.

Two areas will be explored, one in the Eastern Manus Basin in the Bismarck Sea known as the Pacmanus vent site and the other Vienna Woods, an area of exposed massive sulfide on the Manus Ridge, a small mid-ocean ridge spreading center to the northwest of the Pacmanus site. The Pacmanus site is in 1,700 meters of water (about 4,500 feet), while the Vienna Woods site is in 2,500 meters (about 8,000 feet).

“There are differences in the compositions of hosts rock at the two areas, as well as differences in the geologic and tectonic settings,” Tivey, an associate scientist in the WHOI Geology and Geophysics Department, said. In the Eastern Manus Basin at the Pacmanus vents, the host rocks are felsic or silica-rich compared to the more typical mid-ocean ridge basalt found at the Vienna Woods site, providing a contrast in host rock geochemistry.

“It has been suggested that the difference in the chemistry of the host rock is reflected in the composition of the sulfide chimneys and deposits, with deposits hosted in the more silica-rich rocks being richer in gold and other precious metals” Tivey said. “However, there are other factors that can affect vent fluid and sulfide deposit composition. For example, some hydrothermal fluids from back-arc sites appear to have a signature indicative of a magma chamber source, with magmatically-derived fluids possibly affecting the hydrothermal systems.”

The research program is designed to determine what factors may be affecting vent deposit chemistry, Tivey said. In addition to sampling the deposits and collecting fresh and altered host rock, the researchers will collect vent fluids using gas-tight samplers to study the possible influence of both magmatic volatiles and host rock composition. They will also map the seafloor, and below the seafloor using geophysical techniques, to better discern the geologic history and structure of the sites.

Tivey and other scientists and students from WHOI will be joined by colleagues from Towson University, University of South Florida, Bridgewater State College and the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Bremen in Germany, Seoul University in South Korea, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia, the Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea, the University of Papua New Guinea, and Nautilus Minerals.

The expedition is funded by the National Science Foundation, Nautilus Minerals Inc., WHOI and the respective research agencies of the participants.

Shelley Dawicki | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.whoi.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>