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Assessment of the mineral resource potential of atlantic ferromanganese crusts based on their growth history, microstructure, and texture

Assessment of the mineral resource potential of atlantic ferromanganese crusts based on their growth history, microstructure, and texture
Assessment of the mineral resource potential of atlantic ferromanganese crusts based on their growth history, microstructure, and texture

The decarbonisation of our energy supply is reliant on new technologies that are raw material intensive and will require a significant increase in the production of metals to sustain them. Ferromanganese (FeMn) crusts are seafloor precipitates, enriched in metals such as cobalt and tellurium, both of which have a predicted future demand above current production rates. In this study, we investigate the texture and composition of FeMn crusts on Tropic Seamount, a typical Atlantic guyot off the coast of western Africa, as a basis for assessing the future mineral resource potential of Atlantic Seamounts. The majority of the summit is flat and covered by FeMn crusts with average thicknesses of 3–4 cm. The crusts are characterized by two dominant textures consisting of either massive pillared growth or more chaotic, cuspate sections of FeMn oxides, with an increased proportion of detrital and organic material. The Fe, Mn, and Co contents in the FeMn oxide layers are not affected by texture. However, detrital material and bioclasts can form about 50% of cuspate areas, and the dilution effect of this entrained material considerably reduces the Fe, Mn, and Co concentrations if the bulk samples are analyzed. Whilst Tropic Seamount meets many of the prerequisites for a crust mining area, the thickness of the crusts and their average metal composition means extraction is unlikely to be viable in the near future. The ability to exploit more difficult terrains or multiple, closely spaced edifices would make economic feasibility more likely.

Atlantic, Cobalt, Crusts, Ferromanganese, Seafloor mining, Seamount
0009-8558
1-19
Yeo, Isobel A.
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Dobson, Kate
3b74b367-6288-4c50-8713-f000e84ecf28
Josso, Pierre
7da4acf5-b481-49df-931e-160d4ed199e5
Pearce, Richard B.
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Howarth, Sarah A.
b4a13146-aada-42ab-939f-678be7a4d639
Lusty, Paul A.J.
1ef4795f-3882-4b26-900d-c30afc681408
Le Bas, Tim P.
4128286d-8730-4ee8-ba45-2d55b3962701
Murton, Bramley J.
9076d07f-a3c1-4f90-a5d5-99b27fe2cb12
Yeo, Isobel A.
e3e249ce-b5b0-4994-9d1a-135c42eea4b5
Dobson, Kate
3b74b367-6288-4c50-8713-f000e84ecf28
Josso, Pierre
7da4acf5-b481-49df-931e-160d4ed199e5
Pearce, Richard B.
7d772b25-3ad0-4909-9a96-3a1a8111bc2f
Howarth, Sarah A.
b4a13146-aada-42ab-939f-678be7a4d639
Lusty, Paul A.J.
1ef4795f-3882-4b26-900d-c30afc681408
Le Bas, Tim P.
4128286d-8730-4ee8-ba45-2d55b3962701
Murton, Bramley J.
9076d07f-a3c1-4f90-a5d5-99b27fe2cb12

Yeo, Isobel A., Dobson, Kate, Josso, Pierre, Pearce, Richard B., Howarth, Sarah A., Lusty, Paul A.J., Le Bas, Tim P. and Murton, Bramley J. (2018) Assessment of the mineral resource potential of atlantic ferromanganese crusts based on their growth history, microstructure, and texture. Minerals, 8 (8), 1-19, [327]. (doi:10.3390/min8080327).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The decarbonisation of our energy supply is reliant on new technologies that are raw material intensive and will require a significant increase in the production of metals to sustain them. Ferromanganese (FeMn) crusts are seafloor precipitates, enriched in metals such as cobalt and tellurium, both of which have a predicted future demand above current production rates. In this study, we investigate the texture and composition of FeMn crusts on Tropic Seamount, a typical Atlantic guyot off the coast of western Africa, as a basis for assessing the future mineral resource potential of Atlantic Seamounts. The majority of the summit is flat and covered by FeMn crusts with average thicknesses of 3–4 cm. The crusts are characterized by two dominant textures consisting of either massive pillared growth or more chaotic, cuspate sections of FeMn oxides, with an increased proportion of detrital and organic material. The Fe, Mn, and Co contents in the FeMn oxide layers are not affected by texture. However, detrital material and bioclasts can form about 50% of cuspate areas, and the dilution effect of this entrained material considerably reduces the Fe, Mn, and Co concentrations if the bulk samples are analyzed. Whilst Tropic Seamount meets many of the prerequisites for a crust mining area, the thickness of the crusts and their average metal composition means extraction is unlikely to be viable in the near future. The ability to exploit more difficult terrains or multiple, closely spaced edifices would make economic feasibility more likely.

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minerals-08-00327-v4
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 27 July 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 30 July 2018
Published date: 1 August 2018
Keywords: Atlantic, Cobalt, Crusts, Ferromanganese, Seafloor mining, Seamount

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 424628
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/424628
ISSN: 0009-8558
PURE UUID: ca3a4fcf-d817-4292-bbce-77eaaf713992

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Date deposited: 05 Oct 2018 11:39
Last modified: 21 Jun 2022 18:23

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Contributors

Author: Isobel A. Yeo
Author: Kate Dobson
Author: Pierre Josso
Author: Sarah A. Howarth
Author: Paul A.J. Lusty
Author: Tim P. Le Bas
Author: Bramley J. Murton

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