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The abundance of seafloor massive sulfide deposits

Mark Hannington, John Jamieson, Thomas Monecke, Sven Petersen and Stace Beaulieu
The abundance of seafloor massive sulfide deposits
Geology (Boulder) (December 2011) 39 (12): 1155-1158


The possibility of mining seafloor massive sulfide deposits has stirred debate about the sustainable use of this new resource and whether commercial development is worth the risk. Among the outstanding questions is how many deposits might be accessible to deep-sea mining. More than 300 sites of high-temperature hydrothermal venting have been identified since the discovery of black smokers, but significant massive sulfide accumulation has been found at only 165 of these sites. Estimates of the total number of vent fields and associated mineral deposits, based on plume studies and deposit occurrence models, range from 500 to 5000. We have used new deposit occurrence data from 10,000 km of ridge, arc, and backarc spreading centers to estimate the amount of massive sulfide in the easily accessible neovolcanic zones of the global oceans. The total accumulation in these areas is estimated to be on the order of 6 X 10 (super 8) tonnes, containing approximately 3 X 10 (super 7) tonnes of copper and zinc. This is similar to the total discovered copper and zinc in Cenozoic massive sulfide deposits mined on land but is insufficient to satisfy a growing global demand for these metals.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 39
Serial Issue: 12
Title: The abundance of seafloor massive sulfide deposits
Affiliation: University of Ottawa, Department of Earth Sciences, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Pages: 1155-1158
Published: 201112
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 29
Accession Number: 2012-007720
Categories: Economic geology, geology of ore depositsOceanography
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2011342
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
Secondary Affiliation: Colorado School of Mines, USA, United StatesIFM-Geomar, DEU, GermanyWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201204
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