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: closed (31 August 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Luis Somoza
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
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

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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 1800 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 (18 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Sr–Nd–Pb–Hf Isotopic Constraints on the Mantle Heterogeneities beneath the South Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 18–21°S
Minerals 2020, 10(11), 1010; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10111010 - 13 Nov 2020
Viewed by 355
Abstract
In an attempt to investigate the nature and origin of mantle heterogeneities beneath the South Mid-Atlantic Ridge (SMAR), we report new whole-rock Sr, Nd, Pb, and Hf isotopic data from eight basalt samples at four dredge stations along the SMAR between 18°S and [...] Read more.
In an attempt to investigate the nature and origin of mantle heterogeneities beneath the South Mid-Atlantic Ridge (SMAR), we report new whole-rock Sr, Nd, Pb, and Hf isotopic data from eight basalt samples at four dredge stations along the SMAR between 18°S and 21°S. Sr, Nd, and Pb isotopic data from SMAR mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORBs) at 18–21°S published by other researchers were also utilized in this study. The SMAR MORBs at 18–21°S feature the following ratio ranges: 87Sr/86Sr = 0.70212 to 0.70410, 143Nd/144Nd = 0.512893 to 0.513177, 206Pb/204Pb = 18.05 to 19.50, 207Pb/204Pb = 15.47 to 15.71, 208Pb/204Pb = 37.87 to 38.64, and 176Hf/177Hf = 0.283001 to 0.283175. The 87Sr/86Sr, 143Nd/144Nd, 206Pb/204Pb, and 176Hf/177Hf ratios of these MORBs varied considerably along the SMAR axis. The variable compositions of the Sr–Nd–Pb–Hf isotopes, combined with the corresponding whole-rock major and trace elemental abundances reported in previous studies, suggest that the SMAR MORBs at 18–21°S were probably derived from a heterogeneous mantle substrate related to a mixture of depleted mantle (DM) materials with a small amount (but variable input) of HIMU (high-μ, where μ = 238U/204Pb)- and enriched (EMII)-type materials. The HIMU-type materials likely originated from the proximal St. Helena plume and may have been transported through “pipe-like inclined sublithospheric channels” into the SMAR axial zone. The EMII-type materials possibly originated from a recycled metasomatized oceanic crust that may have been derived from the early dispersion of other plume heads into the subcontinental asthenosphere prior to the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean. In addition, the contributions of subducted sediments, continental crust, and subcontinental lithospheric mantle components to the formation of the SMAR MORBs at 18–21°S may be nonexistent or negligible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
The Formation of Authigenic Carbonates at a Methane Seep Site in the Northern Part of the Laptev Sea
Minerals 2020, 10(11), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10110948 - 25 Oct 2020
Viewed by 625
Abstract
Authigenic carbonates from cold seeps are unique archives for studying environmental conditions, including biogeochemical processes associated with methane-rich fluid migration through the sediment column. The aim of this research was to study major oxide, mineralogical, and stable isotopic compositions of cold-seep authigenic carbonates [...] Read more.
Authigenic carbonates from cold seeps are unique archives for studying environmental conditions, including biogeochemical processes associated with methane-rich fluid migration through the sediment column. The aim of this research was to study major oxide, mineralogical, and stable isotopic compositions of cold-seep authigenic carbonates collected in the northern part of the Laptev Sea. These carbonates are represented by Mg-calcite with an Mg content of 2% to 8%. The δ13C values range from −27.5‰ to −28.2‰ Vienna Peedee belemnite (VPDB) and indicate that carbonates formed due to anaerobic oxidation of methane, most likely thermogenic in origin. The authigenic pyrite in Mg-calcite is evidence of sulfate reduction during carbonate precipitation. The δ18O values of carbonates vary from 3.5‰ to 3.8‰ VPDB. The calculated δ18Ofluid values show that pore water temperature for precipitated Mg-calcite was comparable to bottom seawater temperature. The presence of authigenic carbonate in the upper horizons of sediments suggests that the sulfate–methane transition zone is shallowly below the sediment–water interface. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Formation of Tubular Carbonates within the Seabed of the Northern South China Sea
Minerals 2020, 10(9), 768; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10090768 - 29 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 652
Abstract
A remarkable exposure of tubular authigenic carbonates was found on the seafloor in the Dongsha area of the South China Sea (SCS). The tubular carbonates, around 2–3 cm in diameter and usually less than 10 cm in length, represent broken fragments of once-larger [...] Read more.
A remarkable exposure of tubular authigenic carbonates was found on the seafloor in the Dongsha area of the South China Sea (SCS). The tubular carbonates, around 2–3 cm in diameter and usually less than 10 cm in length, represent broken fragments of once-larger pipes that now protrude from muddy sediments. The morphology, carbon and oxygen stable isotope compositions, and trace and rare earth element contents of the carbonates were analyzed to decipher the mode of carbonate formation. The tubular carbonates exhibit a dark brown coating of iron and manganese hydrous oxides, indicating prolonged exposure to oxic bottom waters. The carbonate content of the micritic pipes falls between 12.5 and 67.3 wt.% with an average of 42.0 wt.%, suggesting formation within the sediment. This inference is supported by trace and rare earth element patterns including a moderate enrichment of middle rare earth elements. Low δ13C values (as low as −50.3‰, Vienna Pee Dee Belemnite (VPDB)) suggest that carbonate precipitation was induced by the anaerobic oxidation of methane. The unusually positive δ18O values of the carbonates (as high as +5.3‰, VPDB) are believed to reflect the destabilization of locally abundant gas hydrate. Taken together, it is suggested that pipe formation was initiated by sediment-dwelling organisms, such as crustaceans or bivalves. The burrows subsequently acted as conduits for upward fluid migration. The lithification of the sediment directly surrounding the conduits and the partial filling of the conduits with carbonate cement resulted in the formation of tubular carbonates. Turbidity currents, sediment slumps, or the vigorous emission of fluids probably induced the fragmentation of tubular carbonates within the sediment. The carbonate fragments had been further subjected to winnowing by bottom currents. This study provides insight into the interaction of megafauna burrowing with fluid migration and carbonate formation at hydrocarbon seeps, highlighting the role of bottom currents and mass wasting on the formation of fragmented tubular carbonates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Chemostratigraphic Correlations of Deep-Sea Sediments in the Western North Pacific Ocean: A New Constraint on the Distribution of Mud Highly Enriched in Rare-Earth Elements
Minerals 2020, 10(6), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10060575 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 771
Abstract
Deep-sea sediments with total rare-earth elements and yttrium (ΣREY) concentrations exceeding 400 ppm, which are termed REY-rich mud, are widely distributed in the world oceans. Specifically, deep-sea sediments within the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding Minamitorishima Island in the western North Pacific [...] Read more.
Deep-sea sediments with total rare-earth elements and yttrium (ΣREY) concentrations exceeding 400 ppm, which are termed REY-rich mud, are widely distributed in the world oceans. Specifically, deep-sea sediments within the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding Minamitorishima Island in the western North Pacific have attracted significant attention as a new REY resource, because they contain REY-enriched layers exceeding 2000 ppm of ΣREY. However, neither the sediments deeper than 15 m below the seafloor (mbsf) nor those outside the Minamitorishima EEZ have ever been studied. Recently, a number of distinct geochemical features which are aligned in stratigraphic order were recognized in these sediments, based on multi-elemental composition data. Chemostratigraphy enables us to laterally correlate three REY peaks among apparently featureless pelagic clays. Here, we apply chemostratigraphic correlation to 19 new cores collected from the northern Pigafetta Basin and several small basins within the Marcus-Wake Seamounts. This study revealed that the REY-enriched layers occur at greater depths than the piston core length in a wider area than previously investigated (e.g., ~20.5 mbsf at Ocean Drilling Program Site 801A). This finding suggests that the depositional environments in these areas were basically similar, although local geographic conditions could have affected the continuity of REY peaks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploration of Seafloor Massive Sulfide Deposits with Fixed-Offset Marine Controlled Source Electromagnetic Method: Numerical Simulations and the Effects of Electrical Anisotropy
Minerals 2020, 10(5), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10050457 - 19 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 628
Abstract
Seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits have attracted growing interest and become the focus of current seafloor mineral exploration. One key challenge is to delineate potential SMS accumulations and estimate their quantity and quality for prospective resource mining. Recently, geophysical electromagnetic methods which are [...] Read more.
Seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits have attracted growing interest and become the focus of current seafloor mineral exploration. One key challenge is to delineate potential SMS accumulations and estimate their quantity and quality for prospective resource mining. Recently, geophysical electromagnetic methods which are routinely used for land-based mineral exploration are being adapted to detect and assess SMS occurrences by imaging their conductivity distributions. However, the rough seafloor topography and electrical anisotropy of the seafloor formations encountered in practical surveys pose challenges for reliable data interpretation, and recent studies have revealed that the rough bathymetry could cause measurable distortions. Here, we consider a fixed-offset marine controlled-source electromagnetic method (CSEM) for SMS exploration, and investigate the effects of electrical anisotropy of sedimentary formations through numerical simulations for marine CSEM surveys aiming at conductive targets in the shallow regions of the seafloor. Numerical results demonstrate that the presence of electrical anisotropy could impose significant influence on fixed-offset marine CSEM data and suggest that the distortions should be sufficiently accounted for reliable data interpretation, thus lending confidence to subsequent quantification of available SMS minerals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Seven Sisters Hydrothermal System: First Record of Shallow Hybrid Mineralization Hosted in Mafic Volcaniclasts on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge
Minerals 2020, 10(5), 439; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10050439 - 15 May 2020
Viewed by 1141
Abstract
We document the discovery of an active, shallow, seafloor hydrothermal system (known as the Seven Sisters Vent Field) hosted in mafic volcaniclasts at a mid-ocean ridge setting. The vent field is located at the southern part of the Arctic mid-ocean ridge where it [...] Read more.
We document the discovery of an active, shallow, seafloor hydrothermal system (known as the Seven Sisters Vent Field) hosted in mafic volcaniclasts at a mid-ocean ridge setting. The vent field is located at the southern part of the Arctic mid-ocean ridge where it lies on top of a flat-topped volcano at ~130 m depth. Up to 200 °C phase-separating fluids vent from summit depressions in the volcano, and from pinnacle-like edifices on top of large hydrothermal mounds. The hydrothermal mineralization at Seven Sisters manifests as a replacement of mafic volcaniclasts, as direct intraclast precipitation from the hydrothermal fluid, and as elemental sulfur deposition within orifices. Barite is ubiquitous, and is sequentially replaced by pyrite, which is the first sulfide to form, followed by Zn-Cu-Pb-Ag bearing sulfides, sulfosalts, and silica. The mineralized rocks at Seven Sisters contain highly anomalous concentrations of ‘epithermal suite’ elements such as Tl, As, Sb and Hg, with secondary alteration assemblages including silica and dickite. Vent fluids have a pH of ~5 and are Ba and metal depleted. Relatively high dissolved Si (~7.6 mmol/L Si) combined with low (0.2–0.4) Fe/Mn suggest high-temperature reactions at ~150 bar. A δ13C value of −5.4‰ in CO2 dominated fluids denotes magmatic degassing from a relatively undegassed reservoir. Furthermore, low CH4 and H2 (<0.026 mmol/kg and <0.009 mmol/kg, respectively) and 3He/4He of ~8.3 R/Racorr support a MORB-like, sediment-free fluid signature from an upper mantle source. Sulfide and secondary alteration mineralogy, fluid and gas chemistry, as well as δ34S and 87Sr/86Sr values in barite and pyrite indicate that mineralization at Seven Sisters is sustained by the input of magmatic fluids with minimal seawater contribution. 226Ra/Ba radiometric dating of the barite suggests that this hydrothermal system has been active for at least 4670 ± 60 yr. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Genesis and Evolution of Ferromanganese Crusts from the Summit of Rio Grande Rise, Southwest Atlantic Ocean
Minerals 2020, 10(4), 349; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10040349 - 14 Apr 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1271
Abstract
The Rio Grande Rise (RGR) is a large elevation in the Atlantic Ocean and known to host potential mineral resources of ferromanganese crusts (Fe–Mn), but no investigation into their general characteristics have been made in detail. Here, we investigate the chemical and mineralogical [...] Read more.
The Rio Grande Rise (RGR) is a large elevation in the Atlantic Ocean and known to host potential mineral resources of ferromanganese crusts (Fe–Mn), but no investigation into their general characteristics have been made in detail. Here, we investigate the chemical and mineralogical composition, growth rates and ages of initiation, and phosphatization of relatively shallow-water (650–825 m) Fe–Mn crusts dredged from the summit of RGR by using computed tomography, X-ray diffraction, 87Sr/86Sr ratios, U–Th isotopes, and various analytical techniques to determine their chemical composition. Fe–Mn crusts from RGR have two distinct generations. The older one has an estimated age of initiation around 48–55 Ma and was extensively affected by post-depositional processes under suboxic conditions resulting in phosphatization during the Miocene (from 20 to 6.8 Ma). As a result, the older generation shows characteristics of diagenetic Fe–Mn deposits, such as low Fe/Mn ratios (mean 0.52), high Mn, Ni, and Li contents and the presence of a 10 Å phyllomanganate, combined with the highest P content among crusts (up to 7.7 wt %). The younger generation is typical of hydrogenetic crusts formed under oxic conditions, with a mean Fe/Mn ratio of 0.75 and mean Co content of 0.66 wt %, and has the highest mean contents of Bi, Nb, Ni, Te, Rh, Ru, and Pt among crusts formed elsewhere. The regeneration of nutrients from local biological productivity in the water column is the main source of metals to crusts, providing mainly metals that regenerate rapidly in the water column and are made available at relatively shallow water depths (Ni, As, V, and Cd), at the expense of metals of slower regeneration (Si and Cu). Additionally, important contributions of nutrients may derive from various water masses, especially the South Atlantic Mode Water and Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW). Bulk Fe–Mn crusts from the summit of RGR plateau are generally depleted in metals considered of greatest economic interest in crusts like Co, REE, Mo, Te, and Zr, but are the most enriched in the critical metals Ni and Li compared to other crusts. Further investigations are warranted on Fe–Mn crusts from deeper-water depths along the RGR plateau and surrounding areas, which would less likely be affected by phosphatization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Fractionation Trends and Variability of Rare Earth Elements and Selected Critical Metals in Pelagic Sediment from Abyssal Basin of NE Pacific (Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone)
Minerals 2020, 10(4), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10040320 - 02 Apr 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1133
Abstract
The geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of pelagic sediments collected from the Interoceanmetal Joint Organization (IOM) claim area, located in the eastern part of the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ; eastern tropical Pacific), are described in this paper. The concentrations of rare earth elements (REE), [...] Read more.
The geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of pelagic sediments collected from the Interoceanmetal Joint Organization (IOM) claim area, located in the eastern part of the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ; eastern tropical Pacific), are described in this paper. The concentrations of rare earth elements (REE), as well as other selected critical elements contained in 135 sediment samples of siliceous clayey silts, are presented. The vertical and spatial variabilities of elements, with particular emphasis on REE as well as metals of the highest economic interest such as Cu, Ni, and Co, are detailed. The applied methods include grain size analysis by laser diffraction, geochemistry examination using ICP-MS, XRF, AAS, and CNS spectrometry, and XRD analysis of mineral composition (Rietveld method). Additionally, statistical methods such as factor analysis (FA) and principal components analysis (PCA) were applied to the results. Finally, a series of maps was prepared by geostatistical methods (universal kriging). Grain size analysis showed poor sorting of the examined fine-grained silts. ICP-MS indicated that total REE contents varied from 200 to 577 ppm, with a mean of 285 ppm, which is generally low. The contents of critical metals such as Cu, Ni, and Co were also low to moderate, apart from some individual sampling stations where total contents were 0.15% or more. Metal composition in sediments was dominated by Cu, Ni, and Zn. A mineral composition analysis revealed the dominance of amorphous biogenic opaline silica (27–58%), which were mostly remnants of diatoms, radiolarians, and sponges associated with clay minerals (23% to 48%), mostly Fe-smectite and illite, with mixed-layered illite/smectite. The high abundance of diagenetic barite crystals found in SEM−EDX observations explains the high content of Ba (up to 2.4%). The sediments showed complex lateral and horizontal fractionation trends for REE and critical metals, caused mostly by clay components, early diagenetic processes, admixtures of allogenic detrital minerals, or scavenging by micronodules. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation Accuracy and Classification of Polymetallic Nodule Resources Based on Classical Sampling Supported by Seafloor Photography (Pacific Ocean, Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, IOM Area)
Minerals 2020, 10(3), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10030263 - 14 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 825
Abstract
The amount and accuracy of nodule resources estimation in the Pacific Ocean are among the main factors conditioning the future exploitation. The estimates are based on the results of classical, direct seafloor sampling. Due to the large distance between sampling sites, the accuracy [...] Read more.
The amount and accuracy of nodule resources estimation in the Pacific Ocean are among the main factors conditioning the future exploitation. The estimates are based on the results of classical, direct seafloor sampling. Due to the large distance between sampling sites, the accuracy of assessing nodule resources in small parts of the deposit is low. The accuracy can be increased by using a large number of seafloor photographs taken along the route of the research vessel performing classic sampling. The study conducted for a part of the area administered by Interoceanmetal Joint Organization (IOM) included: (i) determining a model of the relationship between nodule abundance and seafloor nodule coverage using statistical methods, (ii) assessing the accuracy of nodule resources estimation using a geostatistical kriging procedure, (iii) proposing a preliminary classification of resources referring to International Seabed Authority (ISA) classification standards as material for further discussion. It was found that achievement of high accuracy in the estimation of nodule resources (with relative standard error <5%) in blocks planned for annual exploitation based on direct sampling is difficult. While the use of seafloor photographs increases the accuracy of estimating nodule resources, this improvement is not radical due to the unfavorable, preferential arrangement of photographic data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
A Quantitative Assessment of Methane-Derived Carbon Cycling at the Cold Seeps in the Northwestern South China Sea
Minerals 2020, 10(3), 256; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10030256 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 729
Abstract
Widespread cold seeps along continental margins are significant sources of dissolved carbon to the ocean water. However, little is known about the methane turnovers and possible impact of seepage on the bottom seawater at the cold seeps in the South China Sea (SCS). [...] Read more.
Widespread cold seeps along continental margins are significant sources of dissolved carbon to the ocean water. However, little is known about the methane turnovers and possible impact of seepage on the bottom seawater at the cold seeps in the South China Sea (SCS). We present seafloor observation and porewater data of six push cores, one piston core and three boreholes as well as fifteen bottom-water samples collected from four cold seep areas in the northwestern SCS. The depths of the sulfate–methane transition zone (SMTZ) are generally shallow, ranging from ~7 to <0.5 mbsf (meters below seafloor). Reaction-transport modelling results show that methane dynamics were highly variable due to the transport and dissolution of ascending gas. Dissolved methane is predominantly consumed by anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) at the SMTZ and trapped by gas hydrate formation below it, with depth-integrated AOM rates ranging from 59.0 and 591 mmol m−2 yr−1. The δ13C and Δ14C values of bottom-water dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) suggest discharge of 13C- and 14C-depleted fossil carbon to the bottom water at the cold seep areas. Based on a two-endmember estimate, cold seeps fluids likely contribute 16–26% of the bottom seawater DIC and may have an impact on the long-term deep-sea carbon cycle. Our results reveal the methane-related carbon inventories are highly heterogeneous in the cold seep systems, which are probably dependent on the distances of the sampling sites to the seepage center. To our knowledge, this is the first quantitative study on the contribution of cold seep fluids to the bottom-water carbon reservoir of the SCS, and might help to understand the dynamics and the environmental impact of hydrocarbon seep in the SCS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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Open AccessArticle
Using Time-Series Videos to Quantify Methane Bubbles Flux from Natural Cold Seeps in the South China Sea
Minerals 2020, 10(3), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10030216 - 27 Feb 2020
Viewed by 950
Abstract
Natural cold seeps are an important source of methane and other greenhouse gases to the ocean and atmosphere in the marine environment. Accurate quantification of methane bubble fluxes from cold seeps is vital for evaluating their influence on the global methane budget and [...] Read more.
Natural cold seeps are an important source of methane and other greenhouse gases to the ocean and atmosphere in the marine environment. Accurate quantification of methane bubble fluxes from cold seeps is vital for evaluating their influence on the global methane budget and climate change. We quantified the flux of gas bubbles released from two natural cold seep sites in the South China Sea: one seep vent in the Haima cold seeps (1400 m depth) and three seep vents at Site F (1200 m depth). We determined bubble diameter, size distribution, and bubble release rate using image processing techniques and a semiautomatic bubble-counting algorithm. The bubble size distributions fit well to log-normal distribution, with median bubble diameters between 2.54 mm and 6.17 mm. The average bubble diameters and release rates (4.8–26.1 bubbles s−1) in Site F was lower than that in Haima cold seeps (22.6 bubbles s−1), which may be attributed to a variety of factors such as the nature of the gas reservoir, hydrostatic pressure, migration pathways in the sediments, and pore size. The methane fluxes emitted at Haima cold seeps (12.6 L h−1) and at Site F (4.9 L h−1) indicate that the Haima and Site F cold seeps in the South China Sea may be a source of methane to the ocean. However, temporal variations in the bubble release rate and the geochemical characteristics of the seeps were not constrained in this study due to the short observational time interval. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 904
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 785
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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1084
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 618
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1164
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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Open AccessReview
Manganese Nodules in Chile, an Alternative for the Production of Co and Mn in the Future—A Review
Minerals 2020, 10(8), 674; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10080674 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1196
Abstract
Given the active growth of emerging technology industries, it has become essential to have large quantities of critical metals to meet the current demand. In the Chilean mining industry, there is a depletion of high-grade mineral ores, and there is hence a need [...] Read more.
Given the active growth of emerging technology industries, it has become essential to have large quantities of critical metals to meet the current demand. In the Chilean mining industry, there is a depletion of high-grade mineral ores, and there is hence a need to increase production levels in the copper industry and diversify its market by extracting other elements. One of the strategies is to foster the production of lithium batteries, but the manufacture requires reserves of cobalt (Co) and manganese (Mn). Currently, Co reserves are not being exploited in Chile, and Mn production is almost negligible. This is due to the apparent shortage of high-grade ores on the land surface of the country. Given this scenario, the seabed manganese nodules are presented as a good alternative due to their high average grades of Co and Mn, which in turn would allow the growth of strategic value-added industries including lithium battery production. Chile’s current environmental regulations prevent the exploitation of marine resources. However, given technological advances worldwide, both in collection mechanisms and extractive processes, in addition to the needs generated from the future strategic plans, leads us to think about a project to exploit manganese nodules locally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Geology and Minerals)
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1177
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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