While looking for deep-sea animals, a German research vessel, SONNE, discovered large lumps of rare-earth metals in the deep trench between Africa and South America according to officials from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research. It is the largest deposit of manganese nodules known to exist in the Atlantic Ocean.
|Nils Brenke, CeNak photo ... globules scattered on ocean floor|
So far, the largest deposits known is in the Pacific Ocean, according to Colin Devey in a press release, lead scientist on the expedition. The globes of rare-earth metal range in size from golf balls to bowling balls.
According to Popular Science:
Manganese nodules grow incredibly slowly, at the rate of mere millimeters over the course of a million years. They are also a potential source of the rare earth elements that companies use to manufacture high-tech electronics, like smart phones. Last summer the UN's International Seabed Authority issued the first deep sea exploration permits, allowing companies to start actively looking for places to mine nodules and other sources of rare earth elements from the ocean floor. The start of exploration raises a lot of questions about the economic and environmental costs of deep sea mining.
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