Geological Model of Polymetallic Nodule Deposits in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Abstract / Concept

Manganese nodules are found on the seabed in many areas, and have been comparatively well studied because of their potential economic importance. The Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ), the study area for this project, has been the focus of much international attention for many years. To date, the greatest concentrations of nodule deposits have been found in this region. The CCZ is defined for this study as the area between 110°-160° W Longitude and 0°- 20° N Latitude (see Figure 1). Presently, nine of the ten contractors with the International Seabed Authority (the Authority, also the ISA) who are exploring for polymetallic nodule deposits have their contracts in the CCZ. 

As part of its mandate to conduct resource assessments of prospective mineral deposits in the seabed outside of any national jurisdictions (termed the “Area”), the ISA Secretariat staff met with representatives of the contractors to discuss ways of improving the results of resource assessment efforts.

Due to the absence of sampling data across much of this vast geographic area, participants in the meeting suggested that, if the suspected relationships between high metal content and abundance, and factors such as sediment type, volcanism, topography and primary productivity etc. could be established, they could be used as proxies for grade and abundance in poorly sampled areas. They therefore recommended that the Authority should develop a geological model of polymetallic nodule deposits in the CCZ.   Read more


Workshop of 13 to 20 May 2003 in Fiji, related to the Geological Model.

The workshop addressed the following objectives:

• Complete a review of the theoretical aspects of nodule formation;

• Discuss the basic geologic structure of the CCZ and the components of the geologic structure that will be required for resource assessments, identify the key nodule parameters for inclusion in the model;

• Encourage proposals for scientific research to assist in confirming apparent correlations between nodule grade and abundance with various events or environmental characteristics of the CCZ;

• Examine the application of geostatistical methods to resource estimation; and,

• Review the programme of work developed at the Meeting of Scientists and develop a more detailed programme for implementation by the ISA.

The workshop also included a summary by Professor Craig Smith of the University of Hawaii of the work being undertaken with regard to the biodiversity, species ranges, gene flow, and other research related to the protection of the marine environment from the impact of exploration and mining of deep‐sea polymetallic nodules.

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Dr Charles Morgan Planning Solutions Inc. Honolulu, Hawaii USA
Dr Ryszard Kotlinski, Dr Valcana Stoynova from  InterOcean Metal Joint Organization, Poland
Dr H Zhou, Dr Wenzheng Lu, Dr Ning Zhou, Dr Deping Li from  COMRA, China
Dr V Yubko from Yuzmorgeologia, Russian Federation
Dr Lindsay Parson, Dr Peter M. Hunter from Southampton Oceanographic Institute, UK
Dr Craig Smith, Ms Sarah Mincks from  University of Hawaii, USA
Dr Jung-Keuk Kang, Dr Kiseong Hyeong, Dr Cheong-Kee Park, Dr Young Tak Ko KORDI,  Dr Jonguk Kim, Mr Seungjin Yang KORDI  from KORDI, Republic of Korea
Dr D S Cronan from Imperial College London
Dr Yuri Kazmin from SEVERNEFTEGAS, Russian Federation
Dr M Hoffert from University of Strasbourg France