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DEEP SEA GEOMET: POLYMETALLIC NODULE GEOCHEMISTRY AND MINERALOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE SEAFLOOR MINING

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Abstract

Deep sea mining of polymetallic nodules in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) is a method for sourcing critical minerals for renewable energy and battery technologies. In this study, seafloor nodules from the CCZ were analyzed using μ-XRF, p-XRF, X- CT, and whole rock geochemistry. For the first time, the complexities of internal nodule variability were spatially documented using element deportment (primarily Ni-Cu-Mn vs. Fe-Pb-Ti; Cl and Si) and mineral speciation from 10 Å vernadite to todorokite, evident by the presence of layered accretion and deformation structures. Nodules of smaller mass were observed in correlation with higher Ni concentrations and lower Cl concentrations. Si deportment was observed in correlation with macro-pores. These findings led to the development of a geometallurgy (geomet) approach for ore sorting by nodule mass and porosity. Policy guidance was drafted for the International Seabed Authority's Mining Code supporting the use of geoscientific analysis for more robust environmental planning.

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196 pages

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Date Issued

2022-05

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Keywords

Deep sea mining; Economic geology; Geometallurgy; Mineralogy; Polymetallic nodule; Resource

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Committee Chair

Olson Hoal, Karin Elizabeth

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Committee Member

Pritchard, Matthew
Keranen, Kade

Degree Discipline

Geological Sciences

Degree Name

M.S., Geological Sciences

Degree Level

Master of Science

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Government Document

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Attribution 4.0 International

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dissertation or thesis

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