Collecting clues to the geologic history and mineral resources of the Rio Grande Rise, southwest Atlantic Ocean

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USGS scientists James Hein and Kira Mizell participated in a University of São Paulo research cruise to the western Rio Grande Rise, an underwater plateau in international waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil.

From 28 January to 21 February 2018, participants mapped the seafloor, collected samples, and conducted lab studies to better understand the seafloor topography of the rise, its sedimentary history, and the processes that have formed mineral crusts rich in iron and manganese. These Fe-Mn crusts precipitate slowly from seawater, preserving a chemical history of ocean conditions and incorporating potentially economically important elements such as cobalt, tellurium, and platinum. Hein, who leads the USGS Global Ocean Minerals project, was invited to join the cruise to share his knowledge of the Fe-Mn crusts and techniques for collecting and interpreting them.

In two photos side-by-side, on left: 4 men standing on ship deck near winch shack, on right is two women standing on deck.

James Hein (white hardhat) monitors dredge operations from the winch shack and explains dredging techniques to Chief Scientist Professor Luigi Jovane (red hardhat) and the ship's crew. Photo credit: Kira Mizell, USGS. Right: Kira Mizell (left) and colleague Mariana Benites (University of São Paulo) pose with marine mineral samples after the seventeenth and final dredge of the cruise. Photo credit: Isobel Yeo, National Oceanography Centre, UK.