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Identifying toxic impacts of metals potentially released during deep-sea mining-A synthesis of the challenges to quantifying risk

Identifying toxic impacts of metals potentially released during deep-sea mining-A synthesis of the challenges to quantifying risk
Identifying toxic impacts of metals potentially released during deep-sea mining-A synthesis of the challenges to quantifying risk
In January 2017, the International Seabed Authority released a discussion paper on the development of Environmental Regulations for deep-sea mining (DSM) within the Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (the “Area”). With the release of this paper, the prospect for commercial mining in the Area within the next decade has become very real. Moreover, within nations’ Exclusive Economic Zones, the exploitation of deep-sea mineral ore resources could take place on very much shorter time scales and, indeed, may have already started. However, potentially toxic metal mixtures may be released at sea during different stages of the mining process and in different physical phases (dissolved or particulate). As toxicants, metals can disrupt organism physiology and performance, and therefore may impact whole populations, leading to ecosystem scale effects. A challenge to the prediction of toxicity is that deep-sea ore deposits include complex mixtures of minerals, including potentially toxic metals such as copper, cadmium, zinc,
and lead, as well as rare earth elements. Whereas the individual toxicity of some
of these dissolved metals has been established in laboratory studies, the complex
and variable mineral composition of seabed resources makes the a priori prediction of the toxic risk of DSM extremely challenging. Furthermore, although extensive data quantify the toxicity of metals in solution in shallow-water organisms, these may not be representative of the toxicity in deep-sea organisms, which may differ biochemically and physiologically and which will experience those toxicants under conditions of low temperature, high hydrostatic pressure, and potentially altered pH. In this synthesis, we present a summation of recent advances in our understanding of the potential toxic impacts of metal exposure to deep-sea meio- to megafauna at low temperature and high pressure, and consider the limitation of deriving lethal limits based on the paradigm of exposure to single metals in solution. We consider the potential for long-term and farfield impacts to key benthic invertebrates, including the very real prospect of sub-lethal impacts and behavioral perturbation of exposed species. In conclusion, we advocate the adoption of an existing practical framework for characterizing bulk resource toxicity in advance of exploitation.
2296-7745
Hauton, Christopher
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Brown, Alastair
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Thatje, Sven
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Mestre, Nelia C.
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Bebianno, Maria J.
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Martins, Ines
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Bettencourt, Raul
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Canals, Miquel
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Sanchez-Vidal, Anna
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Shillito, Bruce
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Ravaux, Juliette
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Zbinden, Magali
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Duperron, Sebastien
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Mevenkamp, Lisa
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Vanreusel, Ann
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Gambi, Cristina
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Dell'Anno, Antonio
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Danovaro, Roberto
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Gunn, Vikki
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Weaver, Phil
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Hauton, Christopher
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Brown, Alastair
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Thatje, Sven
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Mestre, Nelia C.
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Bebianno, Maria J.
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Martins, Ines
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Bettencourt, Raul
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Canals, Miquel
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Sanchez-Vidal, Anna
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Shillito, Bruce
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Ravaux, Juliette
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Zbinden, Magali
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Duperron, Sebastien
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Mevenkamp, Lisa
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Vanreusel, Ann
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Gambi, Cristina
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Dell'Anno, Antonio
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Danovaro, Roberto
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Gunn, Vikki
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Weaver, Phil
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Hauton, Christopher, Brown, Alastair, Thatje, Sven, Mestre, Nelia C., Bebianno, Maria J., Martins, Ines, Bettencourt, Raul, Canals, Miquel, Sanchez-Vidal, Anna, Shillito, Bruce, Ravaux, Juliette, Zbinden, Magali, Duperron, Sebastien, Mevenkamp, Lisa, Vanreusel, Ann, Gambi, Cristina, Dell'Anno, Antonio, Danovaro, Roberto, Gunn, Vikki and Weaver, Phil (2017) Identifying toxic impacts of metals potentially released during deep-sea mining-A synthesis of the challenges to quantifying risk. Frontiers in Marine Science, 4, [00368]. (doi:10.3389/fmars.2017.00368).

Record type: Article

Abstract

In January 2017, the International Seabed Authority released a discussion paper on the development of Environmental Regulations for deep-sea mining (DSM) within the Area Beyond National Jurisdiction (the “Area”). With the release of this paper, the prospect for commercial mining in the Area within the next decade has become very real. Moreover, within nations’ Exclusive Economic Zones, the exploitation of deep-sea mineral ore resources could take place on very much shorter time scales and, indeed, may have already started. However, potentially toxic metal mixtures may be released at sea during different stages of the mining process and in different physical phases (dissolved or particulate). As toxicants, metals can disrupt organism physiology and performance, and therefore may impact whole populations, leading to ecosystem scale effects. A challenge to the prediction of toxicity is that deep-sea ore deposits include complex mixtures of minerals, including potentially toxic metals such as copper, cadmium, zinc,
and lead, as well as rare earth elements. Whereas the individual toxicity of some
of these dissolved metals has been established in laboratory studies, the complex
and variable mineral composition of seabed resources makes the a priori prediction of the toxic risk of DSM extremely challenging. Furthermore, although extensive data quantify the toxicity of metals in solution in shallow-water organisms, these may not be representative of the toxicity in deep-sea organisms, which may differ biochemically and physiologically and which will experience those toxicants under conditions of low temperature, high hydrostatic pressure, and potentially altered pH. In this synthesis, we present a summation of recent advances in our understanding of the potential toxic impacts of metal exposure to deep-sea meio- to megafauna at low temperature and high pressure, and consider the limitation of deriving lethal limits based on the paradigm of exposure to single metals in solution. We consider the potential for long-term and farfield impacts to key benthic invertebrates, including the very real prospect of sub-lethal impacts and behavioral perturbation of exposed species. In conclusion, we advocate the adoption of an existing practical framework for characterizing bulk resource toxicity in advance of exploitation.

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Accepted/In Press date: 31 October 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 16 November 2017
Published date: 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 416194
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/416194
ISSN: 2296-7745
PURE UUID: e0b4feed-015a-47bb-9e29-7df89164bee4
ORCID for Christopher Hauton: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2313-4226

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Date deposited: 07 Dec 2017 17:30
Last modified: 22 Nov 2021 02:40

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Contributors

Author: Alastair Brown
Author: Sven Thatje
Author: Nelia C. Mestre
Author: Maria J. Bebianno
Author: Ines Martins
Author: Raul Bettencourt
Author: Miquel Canals
Author: Anna Sanchez-Vidal
Author: Bruce Shillito
Author: Juliette Ravaux
Author: Magali Zbinden
Author: Sebastien Duperron
Author: Lisa Mevenkamp
Author: Ann Vanreusel
Author: Cristina Gambi
Author: Antonio Dell'Anno
Author: Roberto Danovaro
Author: Vikki Gunn
Author: Phil Weaver

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