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The Next Mining Frontier?

Hydrothermal vents deep on the seafloor spew chemical-rich fluids that sustain lush communities of deep-sea life. They also form rich deposits of valuable minerals, incluidng metals and rare-earth elements used in electronic technology such as smart phones and medical imaging devices. As demand for these resources increases and land supplies decrease, commercial industries are looking to the deep ocean as the next frontier for mining. What are the risks and environmental impacts of deep-sea mining on fragile marine ecosystems? WHOI biologist Stace Beaulieu will participate in a symposium “Should We Mine the Seafloor?” today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston, MA. (Photo by George Luther, Univ. Delaware/NSF/ROV Jason 2012 ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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