News Picks : Europe studies ecological impact of deep-sea mining
Nature: The European Union plans to spend €12 million ($16 million) over three years to evaluate the effects of extracting valuable minerals from the vicinity of hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor. The vents are attractive to mining companies because they provide a means for manganese nodules, rare-earth elements, and other commercially attractive materials to escape from the underlying crust. But those same vents support specialized and possibly fragile ecosystems. In the first study undertaken so far, French researchers released plumes of sulfite particles near the Azores islands. Such plumes are likely from mining operations. No deep-sea mining projects are currently under way, but several concessions in the Pacific Ocean have already been granted.