The area to be investigated by the research project “Mining Impact” is located in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the northeast Pacific at approximately 4,500 metres water depth shrouded in complete darkness. Here, in an area of five million square kilometres, manganese nodules are abundantly found on the seabed. Their metal content offers a potential for commercial deep-sea mining. In recent years mineral raw materials from the deep sea have become the focus of some countries and companies in order to secure their supply with high-tech metals.
The seabed between Mexico and Hawaii is part of the common heritage of mankind, as it is not located in the Exclusive Economic Zones of individual countries. This area is managed by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) based in Kingston, Jamaica. The ISA is currently working on a so-called “Mining Code”, which will form the legal framework for all future deep-sea mining activities. Part of this international agreement are stringent regulations for environmental monitoring and for the development of environmental standards in the deep sea. The European JPI Oceans collabora-tive project “MiningImpact” is dedicated to the question of how the state of the deep sea ecosystem can be assessed in order to investigate further the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances at the seafloor. Lead by scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, the Ger-man research vessel SONNE is currently undertaking an expedition into the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.
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