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Estimates of metals contained in abyssal manganese nodules and ferromanganese crusts in the global ocean based on regional variations and genetic types of nodules

January 1, 2022

Deep-ocean ferromanganese crusts and manganese nodules are important marine repositories for global metals. Interest in these minerals as potential resources has led to detailed sampling in many regions of the global ocean, allowing for updated estimates of their global extent. Here, we present global estimates of total tonnage as well as contained metal concentrations and tonnages for ferromanganese crusts and manganese nodules using the most extensive compilation of geochemical data collected to date, along with updated boundaries of regions of interest for these minerals. We present results from mean composition calculated in two ways: first, a global flat average of regional mean compositions, and second, a regionally weighted average that considers differences in chemistry among genetic types and/or oceanographic and geologic settings for these mineral occurrences. For nodules, we use the three genetic types: (1) hydrogenetic, typified by nodules from the West Pacific Nodule Field and Penrhyn Basin; (2) diagenetic, typified by nodules from the Peru Basin; (3) mixed hydrogenetic-diagenetic, typified by nodules from the Clarion–Clipperton Zone and the Central Indian Ocean Basin, and Atlantic Ocean regional type hydrogenetic nodules. All crusts considered here are of hydrogenetic origin, which we divide into seven regional types that reflect a combination of ocean basin and other source inputs. Crust types include Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Continental Margin, Prime Crust Zone (PCZ), North Pacific (non PCZ), and South Pacific. Based on our areal estimates, we find that abyssal regions likely to contain hydrogenetic-type nodules are by far the most widespread in the global ocean (47% of total area), Atlantic Ocean (28%) are next, followed by mixed diagenetic-hydrogenetic (22%) and diagenetic (3%) types. For crusts, the Prime Crust Zone is the most extensive global region (27% of total area) followed by South Pacific (20%), Indian Ocean (18%), North Pacific (12%), Continental Margins (11%), Atlantic Ocean (10%), and Arctic Ocean (2%) types. The global total tonnage estimates that we calculated from this method are 21 × 1010 dry tons for manganese nodules, within the range of previous estimates, and 93 × 1010 dry tons for ferromanganese crusts, which is 4.5 times higher than the 20 × 1010dry tons reported by Hein et al. (2003). This geology and oceanography driven approach to marine mineral quantification contrasts with estimates typically carried out for terrestrial mineral resource deposits. Nevertheless, these estimates and the data that support them demonstrate that marine minerals are an impressive repository for global metals.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Estimates of metals contained in abyssal manganese nodules and ferromanganese crusts in the global ocean based on regional variations and genetic types of nodules
DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-87982-2_3
Authors Kira Mizell, James R. Hein, Manda Viola Au, Amy Gartman
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70229700
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

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