Scientists warn against deep-sea mining after key carbon cycle discovery

Date: November 20, 2018

Source: The National
Author: Kirsteen Paterson

Gas-absorbing deep sea bacteria are soaking up carbon dioxide – and mining could create major problems, Scots scientists say.

As many as 16 contractors from countries including the UK, Germany, France and Korea have secured exploration rights to the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ) in the Pacific Ocean.

However, the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh has produced findings that suggest full scale mining could “significantly” impact ecosystems there for “decades”.

Until now, scientists believed dead fish, plankton and other material sinking to the lowest depth was the main source of seafloor biomass.

However, the team has shown bacteria are the main source, consuming carbon dioxide and fixing millions tonnes of the gas every year.

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