Around the world, countries are claiming obscure and difficult-to-reach tracts of the deep-sea floor, far from the surface and further still from land. Why?
There is a long history of claiming newly discovered territories, of planting the flag at far outposts of the known world.
In the early 20th Century, explorers raced to the South Pole, their sponsors keen to benefit from future exploitation of these unknown areas.
In 1945, President Harry S Truman broke with convention to claim the entire continental shelf off the US.
And, in 2007, Russia used a submersible to plant a flag at the North Pole.
All shared a common motivation – the hunt for new resources – and there is now a new frontier: the deep-sea floor.
Exploration offers the prospect of finding huge amounts of previously untapped resources, but serious environmental concerns remain.
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