Special Issue "Marine Geology and Minerals"

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Mineral Deposits".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Luis Somoza
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Marine Geology Dv., Geological Survey of Spain (IGME), Madrid, Spain
Interests: Marine Geoscience; Seabed fluid flow; Cold-Water Corals; Gas Hydrates; Hydrothermal vents; Continental margins, Antarctica
Dr. Francisco J. González
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Marine Geology & Mapping Dv., Geological Survey of Spain (IGME), Madrid 28003, Spain
Interests: marine mineral deposits; ferromanganese mineralization; phosphorites; critical metals; biomineralization; economic geology; hydrothermal systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last years, the research and exploration of submarine minerals has increased exponentially due to the requirement for rare and critical metals in the so-called high-tech and new green economy, including hybrid automobiles, mobiles, laptops or renewable energy. The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet, and represent a potentially promising new frontier for the research and exploration of minerals. The exploration of submarine minerals and the characterization of ore deposits requires the use of cutting-edge technology in the field of the marine geology.

This Special Issue invites contributions that deal with research of submarine minerals, including seabed mapping and other exploration techniques in distinct tectonic settings such as mid-ocean ridges, seamounts, abyssal plains, convergent margins and submarine volcanoes. We welcome contributions describing seafloor and sub-seafloor exploration techniques for the characterization of mineral deposits around the world. We are inviting contributions on high-resolution and new techniques to explore and characterize the mineralogy and geochemistry of strategic and critical metals like REEs, Co, Te, Nb, Cu, Mn and Pt concentrated on marine mineral deposits. Marine geology techniques include a wide range of methodologies, such as multibeam bathymetry, remote-operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), magnetometers, and others. These techniques used in marine geology also allow us to characterize the physical and chemical parameters of new mineral formation on the seabed. We therefore welcome any contribution exploring aspects of shallow-water and deep-sea minerals in new national or international programs, such as the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

Contributions on genetic/evolutionary models of mineral deposits related to paleo-oceanographic and/or tectonic factors are also welcome. Oceanographic factors such as global contouritic bottom-currents or upwelling undercurrents have a great influence on the formation of polymetallic nodules, ferromanganese crusts and phosphorites in submarine environments like abyssal plains, seamounts or continental margins. The opening of gateways between oceans, such as the Tethys, are also having a great influence on the formation of important submarine mineral deposits.

Furthermore, the tectonic setting is another key point for the characterization of the formation of new submarine minerals. Mid-ocean ridges and back-arc ridges containing areas with hydrothermal activity and black smokers are very important sites for the formation of a great variety of minerals. Convergent margins are also important due to the generation of cold seeps by fluid migration from the deep seabed to the seafloor. In this setting, the active microbial activity associated with hydrocarbons plays an important role in the formation of mineral deposits such as carbonates or pyrites, as well as the formation of hydrates. In this way, the role of microorganisms in the formation of (new) submarine minerals is another of the key points of this Special Issue. 

A special session on “Critical Raw Materials Based on Marine Minerals: New Frontiers and Challenges” has been established at the Goldschmidt 2019 Conference. Articles presented at this session will also be included in the Special Issue.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Luis Somoza
Dr. Francisco J. González
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Submarine minerals
  • Submarine exploration techniques
  • ROVs, AUVs
  • Seabed mapping
  • Cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts
  • Polymetallic nodules
  • Seafloor Massive Sulphides
  • Phosphorites
  • Metalliferous sediments
  • Critical metals
  • Mid-ocean ridges
  • Hydrothermal activity
  • Cold seeps and hydrocarbon fluid migration
  • Microbial activity
  • Contourite currents
  • Paleoceanography and ocean gateways
  • Methane hydrates

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
XRD Identification of Ore Minerals during Cruises: Refinement of Extraction Procedure with Sodium Acetate Buffer
Minerals 2020, 10(2), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10020160 - 12 Feb 2020
Abstract
The on-board identification of ore minerals during a cruise is often postponed until long after the cruise is over. During the M127 cruise, 21 cores with deep-seafloor sediments were recovered in the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) field along the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR). Sediments [...] Read more.
The on-board identification of ore minerals during a cruise is often postponed until long after the cruise is over. During the M127 cruise, 21 cores with deep-seafloor sediments were recovered in the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) field along the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR). Sediments were analyzed on-board for physicochemical properties such as lightness (L*), pH and Eh. Selected samples were studied for mineral composition by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD). Based on XRD data, sediment samples were separated into high-, low- and non-carbonated. Removal of carbonates is a common technique in mineralogical studies in which HCl is used as the extraction agent. In the present study, sequential extraction was performed with sodium acetate buffer (pH 5.0) to remove carbonates. The ratio between the highest calcite XRD reflection in the original samples (Iorig) vs its XRD-reflection in samples after their treatment with the buffer (Itreat) was used as a quantitative parameter of calcite removal, as well as to identify minor minerals in carbonated samples (when Iorig/Itreat > 24). It was found that the lightness parameter (L*) showed a positive correlation with calcite XRD reflection in selected TAG samples, and this could be applied to the preliminary on-board determination of extraction steps with acetate buffer (pH 5.0) in carbonated sediment samples. The most abundant minerals detected in carbonated samples were quartz and Al- and Fe-rich clays. Other silicates were also detected (e.g., calcic plagioclase, montmorillonite, nontronite). In non-carbonated samples, Fe oxides and hydroxides (goethite and hematite, respectively) were detected. Pyrite was the dominant hydrothermal mineral and Cu sulfides (chalcopyrite, covellite) and hydrothermal Mn oxides (birnessite and todorokite) were mineral phases identified in few samples, whereas paratacamite was detected in the top 20 cm of the core. The present study demonstrates that portable XRD analysis makes it possible to characterize mineralogy at cored sites, in particular in both low- and high-carbonated samples, before the end of most cruises, thus enabling the quick modification of exploration strategies in light of new information as it becomes available in near-real time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Compositional Variations and Genesis of Sandy-Gravel Ferromanganese Deposits from the Yōmei Guyot (Holes 431, 431A DSDP), Emperor Ridge
Minerals 2019, 9(11), 709; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9110709 - 17 Nov 2019
Abstract
This research presents results characterizing the mineral and chemical composition of ferromanganese (Fe-Mn) deposits from Yōmei Guyot (Holes 431 and 431A), recovered during the Deep-Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Leg 55 R/V “Glomar Challenger”. The Fe-Mn deposits are represented by sandy-gravel clasts. The mineral [...] Read more.
This research presents results characterizing the mineral and chemical composition of ferromanganese (Fe-Mn) deposits from Yōmei Guyot (Holes 431 and 431A), recovered during the Deep-Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Leg 55 R/V “Glomar Challenger”. The Fe-Mn deposits are represented by sandy-gravel clasts. The mineral composition and bulk concentration of major and minor elements, as well as the distribution of rare earth elements and yttrium patterns in mineral fractions of Fe-Mn samples, showed that the deposits are composed of fragments of Fe-Mn hydrogenetic crusts and diagenetic nodules. The morphology of Fe-Mn clasts from Holes 431 and 431A DSDP, as well as a comparison with growth conditions of Fe-Mn deposits from N-W Pacific Guyots, allowed us to establish a Late Pliocene age for the formation of this Fe-Mn placer from Yōmei Guyot. Accumulations of ferromanganese clasts in a sedimentary unit led us to classify this geological body as a new mineral resource of the World Ocean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Geochemistry and Mineralogy of Basalts from the South Mid-Atlantic Ridge (18.0°–20.6°S): Evidence of a Heterogeneous Mantle Source
Minerals 2019, 9(11), 659; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9110659 - 27 Oct 2019
Abstract
The South Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a typical slow-spreading ridge that represents a modern example to understand mantle composition and the evolution of mid-ocean ridge magmatism. In this paper, we investigate basalt samples dredged from four locations along the South Mid-Atlantic Ridge ranging from [...] Read more.
The South Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a typical slow-spreading ridge that represents a modern example to understand mantle composition and the evolution of mid-ocean ridge magmatism. In this paper, we investigate basalt samples dredged from four locations along the South Mid-Atlantic Ridge ranging from 18.0° to 20.6°S. The basalts belong to the tholeiitic series and exhibit normal mid-ocean ridge basalt (N-MORB) geochemical features with variable enrichments of Rb, Th, U, and Pb and depletions of Ba and Sr relative to primitive mantle. Some samples have negative Nb–Ta anomalies whereas others have positive Na–Ta anomalies to average N-MORBs. Plagioclase phenocrysts, microphenocrysts, and microlites occur in the in the matrix; phenocrysts and microphenocrysts are bytownite and labradorite in composition. Olivine phenocrysts are forsterite (Fo87 to Fo96). Chemical zoning in phenocrysts are interpreted to record crystal fractionation and magma mixing. Cores of plagioclase phenocrysts have higher anorthite values (An72–83) and estimated crystallization temperatures (~1180–1240 °C) that may suggest a xenocrystic origin. The lower anorthite proportions of rims of plagioclase phenocrysts (An65–71) and microphenocrysts (An54–72) yield lower estimated crystallization temperatures of ~1090–1120 °C and ~980–1060 °C, respectively. Rims of plagioclase phenocrysts and microphenocrysts may be generated in different environments such as magma chambers or magma channels, respectively. The basalt samples probably originated from partial melting of a depleted mantle spinel lherzolite source with a minor contribution of enriched materials possibly derived from the Saint Helena plume and subcontinental lithospheric mantle in the asthenosphere. Variable compositions of the basalt samples suggest heterogeneous mantle that includes depleted and enriched components at the South Mid-Atlantic Ridge between 18.0°–20.6°S. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Petrographical and Geochemical Signatures Linked to Fe/Mn Reduction in Subsurface Marine Sediments from the Hydrate-Bearing Area, Dongsha, the South China Sea
Minerals 2019, 9(10), 624; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9100624 - 11 Oct 2019
Abstract
Fe and Mn oxides and (oxy)-hydroxides are the most abundant solid-phase electron acceptors in marine sediments, and dissimilatory Fe/Mn reduction usually links with the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and organic matter oxidation (OMO) in sediments. In this study, we report the results [...] Read more.
Fe and Mn oxides and (oxy)-hydroxides are the most abundant solid-phase electron acceptors in marine sediments, and dissimilatory Fe/Mn reduction usually links with the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and organic matter oxidation (OMO) in sediments. In this study, we report the results from subsurface marine sediments in the Dongsha hydrate-bearing area in the South China Sea. The petrological and geochemical signatures show that the Fe/Mn reduction mediated by AOM and OMO might occur in sediments above the sulfate-methane transition zone. X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy analyses of sediments indicate that Fe(III)/Mn(IV)-oxides and authigenic carbonate minerals coexisted in the Fe/Mn reduction zone. The lower δ13C values of dissolved inorganic carbon, coupled with an evident increase in total inorganic carbon contents and a decrease in Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentrations indicate the onset of AOM in this zone, and the greater variation of PO43− and NH4+ concentrations in pore water suggests the higher OMO rates in subsurface sediments. Geochemical and mineralogical analyses suggest that the previously buried Fe(III)/Mn(IV) oxides might be activated and lead to the onset of Fe/Mn reduction induced by AOM and OMO. These findings may extend our understanding of the biogeochemical processes involved in Fe/Mn reduction in continental shelves with abundant methane, organic matter, and terrigenous metal oxides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Simultaneous Leaching of Seafloor Massive Sulfides and Polymetallic Nodules
Minerals 2019, 9(8), 482; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9080482 - 10 Aug 2019
Abstract
Simultaneous leaching of seafloor massive sulfides (SMS) from Loki’s Castle on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge (AMOR) and polymetallic nodules (PN) from Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Central Pacific Ocean was studied. Leaching tests were conducted using sulfuric acid and sodium chloride, at [...] Read more.
Simultaneous leaching of seafloor massive sulfides (SMS) from Loki’s Castle on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge (AMOR) and polymetallic nodules (PN) from Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Central Pacific Ocean was studied. Leaching tests were conducted using sulfuric acid and sodium chloride, at a temperature of 80 °C for 48 h under reflux. The effect of PN-to-SMS ratio was examined. It was shown that simultaneous leaching of two different types of marine resources was possible resulting in high dissolution rates of metals. The proposed process has many advantages as it does not require pyrometallurgical pretreatment, and yields solid products (i.e., silica, barite, elemental sulfur, albite, microcline, muscovite), which might be utilized for various industrial applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Can Primary Ferroan Dolomite and Ankerite Be Precipitated? Its Implications for Formation of Submarine Methane-Derived Authigenic Carbonate (MDAC) Chimney
Minerals 2019, 9(7), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9070413 - 05 Jul 2019
Abstract
Microbes can mediate the precipitation of primary dolomite under surface conditions. Meanwhile, primary dolomite mediated by microbes often contains more Fe2+ than standard dolomite in modern microbial culture experiments. Ferroan dolomite and ankerite have been regarded as secondary products. This paper reviews [...] Read more.
Microbes can mediate the precipitation of primary dolomite under surface conditions. Meanwhile, primary dolomite mediated by microbes often contains more Fe2+ than standard dolomite in modern microbial culture experiments. Ferroan dolomite and ankerite have been regarded as secondary products. This paper reviews the process and possible mechanisms of microbial mediated precipitation of primary ferroan dolomite and/or ankerite. In the microbial geochemical Fe cycle, many dissimilatory iron-reducing bacteria (DIRB), sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), and methanogens can reduce Fe3+ to Fe2+, while SRB and methanogens can also promote the precipitation of primary dolomite. There are an oxygen respiration zone (ORZ), an iron reduction zone (IRZ), a sulfate reduction zone (SRZ), and a methanogenesis zone (MZ) from top to bottom in the muddy sediment diagenesis zone. DIRB in IRZ provide the lower section with Fe2+, which composes many enzymes and proteins to participate in metabolic processes of SRB and methanogens. Lastly, heterogeneous nucleation of ferroan dolomite on extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and cell surfaces is mediated by SRB and methanogens. Exploring the origin of microbial ferroan dolomite may help to solve the “dolomite problem”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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