Impact of ferromanganese ore pollution on phytoplankton CO2 fixation in the surface ocean

Alicja Dabrowska, Nina A. Kamennaya, Bramley J. Murton, Mikhail V. Zubkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Because ferromanganese polymetallic crusts can become a global resource of valuable elements the ecological impact of seafloor crust mining requires evaluation. Whilst the detrimental impact on deep-ocean benthos is established, experimental evidence about the mining hazard to surface-ocean is sparse. When retrieved, mined crusts can leach elements potentially harmfull to the core oceanic CO2-fixers – phytoplankton. To directly assess the magnitude of this potential hazard at ocean-basin scale, we examine the impact of ore slurry on phytoplankton CO2 fixation along a meridional transect through the South Atlantic Ocean. Within 12 h crust slurry additions caused a 25% decrease of CO2 fixation in the subtropical region and 15% in the temperate-polar region. Such moderate susceptibility of phytoplankton indicates limited release of harmful elements from tested polymetallic powder. Although this implies that environmentally sustainable seafloor mining could be feasible, longer-term complex studies of the mining impact on the surface ocean are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1002-1006
Number of pages5
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Deep-sea mining
  • Ferromanganese polymetallic crust
  • Oceanic phytoplankton
  • Primary production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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