Deep Sea Mining Impacts on Microbial Ecosystem Services

Dates: April 18-19, 2018

Location: Graham Shimmield Residence Hall, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, Maine, USA

Host: Beth Orcutt

Sponsor: Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)

To register interest in participating, please visit the Google Form linked below!

The effluent of hydrothermal circulation through subsurface oceanic crust is the root cause of hydrothermal mineral deposits on and below the seafloor. These effluents and deposits support unique microbial and macrofaunal communities at the seafloor, serving as windows into deep subseafloor processes and analogs for the study of extraterrestrial life. These sites are increasingly targeted for commercial exploitation for mineral extraction[1]. Commercial ventures to exploit these resources have accelerated substantially, despite international oversight and understanding of the impacts of this exploitation lagging behind. The C-DEBI scientific community, in particular, represents a broad swath of experts in subseafloor hydrothermal circulation, mineral alteration and formation, and hydrothermal vent microbial and macrofaunal ecology. The time is ripe to bring together representatives from this community to focus on the opportunities and threats raised by deep-sea mining to the study of the subsurface (and vice versa), to develop strategies to prioritize research questions of relevance to this applied topic, and to develop a framework to provide guidance and leadership in advising the International Seabed Authority on this topic. This workshop – to be held in April 2018 at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine – will bring together representatives of the C-DEBI community with additional experts in hydrothermal environments with consultants and advisors to the ISA and related agencies to discuss these issues and develop a white paper with recommendations.

The primary objective of this workshop is to develop a white paper that provides observations and recommendations that are of value to shaping policy related to deep-sea mining. It will also be used as a basis for scoping and launching new research and funding initiatives that could advance our understanding of mining impacts on the deep biosphere, and vice versa. Participants will be involved in preparing the following deliverables:

  1. A brief workshop report within one month of the workshop close that provides an executive summary of the workshop outcomes, for publication to the C-DEBI research community.
  2. A white paper completed within six months of the end of the workshop, aimed at publication in a relevant policy and/or trade magazine (such as Marine Technology Reporter or Oceanography) and addressed to industry, policy makers, non-profit foundation program managers, the C-DEBI community, and the scientifically literate public.
  3. Pitches for non-profit foundations and science programs interested in the impacts of deep-sea mining, to support targeted applied science research that addresses policy & industry needs.

Details about the schedule are provided in the PDF linked here.

Click here to fill out the registration form.