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Controls on the distribution of rare earth elements in deep-sea sediments in the North Atlantic Ocean

Controls on the distribution of rare earth elements in deep-sea sediments in the North Atlantic Ocean
Controls on the distribution of rare earth elements in deep-sea sediments in the North Atlantic Ocean
Deep-sea sediments can contain relatively high concentrations of rare earth elements and yttrium (REY), with a growing interest in their exploitation as an alternative to land-based REY resources. To understand the processes that lead to enrichment of the REY in deep-sea sediments, we have undertaken a detailed geochemical study of sediments recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, on a transect along ~24 ?N that includes the deep Nares Abyssal Plain and the Canary and North America Basins.

Total REY concentrations (?REY) range from 7.99 to 513 ppm, and total concentrations of the heavy REY (Eu - Lu) range from 0.993 to 56.3 ppm. REY concentrations are highest in slowly accumulating pelagic red clays, especially in samples that contain ferromanganese micronodules. Factor analysis reveals that hydrogenous Fe- and Mn-(oxyhydr)oxides are the primary REY carrier phase in the red clays. In situ analysis of individual micronodules confirms that they have high ?REY (up to 3620 ppm). REY concentrations are higher in micronodules that have a hydrogenous source, characterized by higher Fe/Mn, compared to micronodules that have a diagenetic source.


The ?REY content of North Atlantic deep-sea sediments is ~4 times lower than in Pacific deep-sea sediments. We calculate that the area of seafloor required to extract ~10% of the global annual REY demand is ~100 km2, assuming removal of the upper 1m of sediment.
Rare earth elements, Fe-Mn micronodules, Atlantic deep sediments, seafloor mining, Fe-Mn-(oxyhydr)oxides
0169-1368
100–113
Menendez, Amaya
378704ee-93ff-478f-ba13-83177846dd9c
James, Rachael
79aa1d5c-675d-4ba3-85be-fb20798c02f4
Roberts, Stephen
f095c7ab-a37b-4064-8a41-ae4820832856
Peel, Kate
77f319ec-6c69-4f96-b184-ed67bf8a1204
Connelly, Douglas
d49131bb-af38-4768-9953-7ae0b43e33c8
Menendez, Amaya
378704ee-93ff-478f-ba13-83177846dd9c
James, Rachael
79aa1d5c-675d-4ba3-85be-fb20798c02f4
Roberts, Stephen
f095c7ab-a37b-4064-8a41-ae4820832856
Peel, Kate
77f319ec-6c69-4f96-b184-ed67bf8a1204
Connelly, Douglas
d49131bb-af38-4768-9953-7ae0b43e33c8

Menendez, Amaya, James, Rachael, Roberts, Stephen, Peel, Kate and Connelly, Douglas (2017) Controls on the distribution of rare earth elements in deep-sea sediments in the North Atlantic Ocean. Ore Geology Reviews, 87, 100–113. (doi:10.1016/j.oregeorev.2016.09.036).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Deep-sea sediments can contain relatively high concentrations of rare earth elements and yttrium (REY), with a growing interest in their exploitation as an alternative to land-based REY resources. To understand the processes that lead to enrichment of the REY in deep-sea sediments, we have undertaken a detailed geochemical study of sediments recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, on a transect along ~24 ?N that includes the deep Nares Abyssal Plain and the Canary and North America Basins.

Total REY concentrations (?REY) range from 7.99 to 513 ppm, and total concentrations of the heavy REY (Eu - Lu) range from 0.993 to 56.3 ppm. REY concentrations are highest in slowly accumulating pelagic red clays, especially in samples that contain ferromanganese micronodules. Factor analysis reveals that hydrogenous Fe- and Mn-(oxyhydr)oxides are the primary REY carrier phase in the red clays. In situ analysis of individual micronodules confirms that they have high ?REY (up to 3620 ppm). REY concentrations are higher in micronodules that have a hydrogenous source, characterized by higher Fe/Mn, compared to micronodules that have a diagenetic source.


The ?REY content of North Atlantic deep-sea sediments is ~4 times lower than in Pacific deep-sea sediments. We calculate that the area of seafloor required to extract ~10% of the global annual REY demand is ~100 km2, assuming removal of the upper 1m of sediment.

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Accepted/In Press date: 15 September 2016
Published date: 1 July 2017
Keywords: Rare earth elements, Fe-Mn micronodules, Atlantic deep sediments, seafloor mining, Fe-Mn-(oxyhydr)oxides
Organisations: Geochemistry, Ocean and Earth Science, Marine Geoscience, National Oceanography Centre

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 400841
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/400841
ISSN: 0169-1368
PURE UUID: 26760561-361e-44ca-9a99-2f077772e63f
ORCID for Rachael James: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7402-2315
ORCID for Stephen Roberts: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4755-6703

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Date deposited: 28 Sep 2016 10:38
Last modified: 19 Mar 2022 05:01

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Contributors

Author: Amaya Menendez
Author: Rachael James ORCID iD
Author: Stephen Roberts ORCID iD
Author: Kate Peel
Author: Douglas Connelly

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