Mining the deep-sea floor: treasure versus destruction in the oceans’ most pristine ecosystems

#oceans # #underwater #pacific #marine #exploration

We are happy to invite you to the lecture titled 

"Mining the deep-sea floor: treasure versus destruction in the oceans’ most pristine ecosystems"

held by Prof. Emeritus Craig Smith from University of Hawaii at Manoa. The lecture will take place on Monday, April 22nd, 2024 at 11:30 at the Gray Hall at FER, Unska 3 in Zagreb. The lecture will be held in person in English language and is estimated to last 60 minutes, including questions.

A summary of the lecture as well as the lecturer's biography can be found below.

  Date and Time




  • Date: 22 Apr 2024
  • Time: 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
  • All times are (UTC+02:00) Zagreb
  • Add_To_Calendar_icon Add Event to Calendar
  • Unska 3
  • Zagreb, Grad Zagreb
  • Croatia 10000
  • Building: D
  • Room Number: Gray Hall
  • Click here for Map

  • Contact Event Hosts


Craig Smith of University of Hawaii


Mining the deep-sea floor: treasure versus destruction in the oceans’ most pristine ecosystems


Interest in mining the deep-sea floor in international waters is growing rapidly due to growing demands for metals for green technological (e.g., cobalt for electric vehicle batteries). Currently, there are 32 mineral exploration contracts registered with the International Seabed Authority (the management body for mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction), and commercial mineral extraction may begin within 1-2 years. I will briefly review the three major types and distributions of deep-seafloor minerals (massive sulfides, cobalt-rich seamount crusts, and polymetallic nodules), and then focus on polymetallic nodules, which contain vast resources of cobalt, nickel and copper, and are first in line for commercial exploitation. Nodule mining will focus on abyssal Pacific seafloor habitats characterized by very low resilience, high biodiversity, and recovery times of decades to millions of years from mining disturbance.  Mining will remove and bury seafloor habitats, and is expected to generate sediment plumes and noise pollution extending hundreds of kilometers in the water column. If conducted at scales required to supply a global fleet of electric vehicles, nodule mining could damage 1.5 million square kilometers (an area equal to Germany, France, Spain and Portugal combined), causing species extinctions and threatening ecosystem services. I will also discuss environmental conservation measures adopted for nodule mining and highlight knowledge gaps hindering the prediction and management of mining impacts on ocean ecosystems.


Dr. Smith is a Professor Emeritus of Oceanography at the University of Hawai‘i. He received his PhD at Scripps Institution of Oceanograpy, conducted research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Washington.   has led 66 major oceanographic research expeditions, and participated in over 100 HOV and ROV dives, in areas ranging from Antarctica to the equatorial Pacific Ocean. His research has included studies of biodiversity, climate change impacts, potential effects of mining in deep-sea and Antarctic fjord ecosystems, as well the discovery and study of whale-fall ecosystems. With a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, Smith spearheaded the creation of the network of marine protected areas (called APEIs) to safeguard regional biodiversity in the abyssal Clarion-Clipperton Zone from mining impacts. Smith has served as an advisor to the International Seabed Authority, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and numerous other international scientific bodies, has received multiple international research awards, and has published more than 240 papers and book chapters in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. 

Address:Manoa, United States