FeMn crust composition on seamounts in the west-central Pacific Ocean

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First detailed, large-scale study of parameters that control ferromanganese crust composition on seamounts in the west-central Pacific Ocean

Illustrated seafloor map with dots to show the places where samples were collected from the seafloor.

Map of the western equatorial Pacific region showing ferromanganese (FeMn) crust dredge locations. Inset in the upper right shows the general region of the sample area; different colors for dredge locations indicate the four cruises included in this study, and the areas outlined in white show the samples included in each of the three main sample transects, Marshall‐Gilbert‐Tuvalu (MGT), Samoa, and Howland‐Baker‐Tokelau (HBT); this map was created in ArcGIS and includes GEBCO 2014 bathymetry.

Scientists from the USGS, the University of California Santa Cruz, Oregon State University, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography published a detailed study of how the composition of ferromanganese (FeMn) crusts varies along seamounts spanning 30° of latitude in the west-central Pacific. They evaluated the concentrations of elements (e.g,. manganese—Mn, iron—Fe, cobalt—Co, nickel—Ni, molybdenum—Mo, zinc—Zn, silicon—Si, aluminum—Al, barium—Ba, magnesium—Mg) from the uppermost layer (less than 15 millimeters) of 57 FeMn crusts for statistically significant variance and correlation with a variety of oceanographic and geographic parameters. Fluctuations in seawater oxygen content, detrital input, surface productivity, and deep sources of iron are clearly recorded by FeMn crusts. Modern measurements of these primary parameters, as well as paleoceanographic reconstructions, can be used to define regions of interest for FeMn crust exploration.

Mizell, K., Hein, J.R., Lam, P.J., Koppers, A.A.P., and Staudigel, H., 2020, Geographic and oceanographic influences on ferromanganese crust composition along a Pacific Ocean meridional transect, 14 N to 14 S: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 21, e2019GC008716, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GC008716

Three people wearing safety gear stand on the stern of a ship to help guide a large ocean-bottom sampler made of chain.

Crew of the research vessel Kilo Moana help guide a partially filled dredge bag back on board the ship during the ALIA Expedition in 2005. They sampled near a seamount (submarine volcano) named Vailulu'u, near American Samoa.

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Date published: June 8, 2020
Status: Active

Global Ocean Mineral Resources

Addressing issues concerning mineral resources that occur within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Pacific coastal States, Pacific islands of U.S. affiliation, and areas beyond national jurisdictions.