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Monitoring of anthropogenic sediment plumes in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, NE Equatorial Pacific Ocean
Haalboom, S.; Schoening, T.; Urbanus, P.; Gazis, I.-Z.; De Stigter, H.; Gillard, B.; Baeye, M.; Hollstein, M.; Purkiani, K.; Reichart, G.-J.; Thomsen, L.; Haeckel, M.; Vink, A.; Greinert, J. (2022). Monitoring of anthropogenic sediment plumes in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, NE Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Front. Mar. Sci. 9: 882155.

Bijhorende data:
In: Frontiers in Marine Science. Frontiers Media: Lausanne. e-ISSN 2296-7745, meer
Peer reviewed article  

Beschikbaar in  Auteurs 

Author keywords
    Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ); deep-sea mining; polymetallic nodules; sediment plume; plume monitoring; dredge experiment; sensor array

Auteurs  Top 
  • Haalboom, S., meer
  • Schoening, T.
  • Urbanus, P.
  • Gazis, I.-Z.
  • De Stigter, H., meer
  • Gillard, B.
  • Baeye, M., meer
  • Hollstein, M.
  • Purkiani, K.
  • Reichart, G.-J., meer
  • Thomsen, L.
  • Haeckel, M.
  • Vink, A.
  • Greinert, J., meer

    The abyssal seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the NE Pacific hosts the largest abundance of polymetallic nodules in the deep sea and is being targeted as an area for potential deep-sea mining. During nodule mining, seafloor sediment will be brought into suspension by mining equipment, resulting in the formation of sediment plumes, which will affect benthic and pelagic life not naturally adapted to any major sediment transport and deposition events. To improve our understanding of sediment plume dispersion and to support the development of plume dispersion models in this specific deep-sea area, we conducted a small-scale, 12-hour disturbance experiment in the German exploration contract area in the CCZ using a chain dredge. Sediment plume dispersion and deposition was monitored using an array of optical and acoustic turbidity sensors and current meters placed on platforms on the seafloor, and by visual inspection of the seafloor before and after dredge deployment. We found that seafloor imagery could be used to qualitatively visualise the redeposited sediment up to a distance of 100 m from the source, and that sensors recording optical and acoustic backscatter are sensitive and adequate tools to monitor the horizontal and vertical dispersion of the generated sediment plume. Optical backscatter signals could be converted into absolute mass concentration of suspended sediment to provide quantitative data on sediment dispersion. Vertical profiles of acoustic backscatter recorded by current profilers provided qualitative insight into the vertical extent of the sediment plume. Our monitoring setup proved to be very useful for the monitoring of this small-scale experiment and can be seen as an exemplary strategy for monitoring studies of future, upscaled mining trials. We recommend that such larger trials include the use of AUVs for repeated seafloor imaging and water column plume mapping (optical and acoustical), as well as the use of in-situ particle size sensors and/or particle cameras to better constrain the effect of suspended particle aggregation on optical and acoustic backscatter signals.

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