Plate tectonics and valuable resources and the difficulties in mining the ocean floor.
Knowledge of plate tectonics and the location of plate boundaries can be used to locate valuable resources on the ocean floor because a clear understanding of plate tectonics will reveal that the ocean bottom is like a baseball with seams. The seams indicate that the plates are not the whole and are joined together, having some cracks in between them. It is this boundary between plates wherein explorers and oceanographers have discovered the presence of mineral-rich superheated water. It comes from under the Earth and cools down when coming in contact with the cold ocean water (Miller & Spoolman 364). In other words, minerals from under the ground gush forth in these areas. When examined closely, scientists found out that “the volcanic springs harbored riots of bizarre creatures, including thickets and tube worms, however the second wave of discovery reveal that these volcanic springs also contained surprising amounts of copper, silver and gold” (Broad 1). Therefore, if one knows how to locate these volcanic springs, there is higher probability of finding precious metals.
There is no need to elaborate the fact that it is extremely difficult to mine in an ocean floor in comparison with the performance of the same activity on the land. The fact is that human beings cannot breathe underwater. However, the problem is greater than the need for oxygen. These mineral rich volcanic springs are located hundreds of meters beneath the surface of the water. In deep waters the pressure can easily destroy any submersible not fitted for the task. Aside from the depth and need for continuous supply of oxygen there is also the problem of darkness as well as the need to haul tons of dirt and ore from the water into the surface to begin the refining process.
For many decades the idea of mining in the ocean floors was considered an impossible mission. This problem, however, is no longer insurmountable nowadays. A good case study is the skill and technical knowledge possessed by Tom Dettweiler. His company, Odyssey Marine Exploration was made famous for its discovery of Titanic. Mr. Dettweiler has transformed his business and entered the world of ocean floor and underwater mining. His knowledge with the regards to submersibles, sensors and robotics is being used to locate mineral rich volcanic springs and to mine them. Thus, the use of technology has made seabed mining more precise and less dangerous.
Aside from the technical aspect there appears another challenge when it comes to mining in the ocean floor. It is the squabble over who owns these resources (Miller & Spoolman 364). It has to be pointed out that territorial claims usually occur in the place where human beings live. In this case the land that corporations and national governments are clamoring for is located in deep waters. In the future the conflicts that will arise due to competing claims on the ocean floor will only intensify. There are no clear guidelines as to how nations and corporations should behave while dealing with this issue and more importantly there are no clear international laws with regards to how the profit can be divided especially if the claim is located several miles offshore.
Why is the ocean layered?
The ocean is layered because of the temperature and salinity. The surface part of it is much warmer than the water below. It has to be pointed out that overall the average temperature of the ocean is 3.6 degrees Celsius. Thus, one can have an idea when it comes to the extremes in the temperature between surface water and deep-water. As a result, the ocean has three major layers (Denny 146). The first layer is described as a thin warm surface layer that extends between 20 to 200 meters or 66 to 660 feet (Mathez 40). The temperature of this layer is low and it often changes, helping to explains why the ocean’s mixed layer persists through time.
The second layer is called the thermocline, which is described as a zone wherein the temperature decreases while salinity increases with depth (Mathez 40). The base temperature is 5 degrees Celsius or 41 degrees Fahrenheit. The third and final layer is the deep zone, which is described as a zone wherein the salinity and temperature vary only slightly with depth (Mathez 40). The third layer, however, constituted about 65 percent of all the Earth’s ocean water. Its deepest and coldest part is measured at 2 degrees Celsius or 35.6 Fahrenheit.
The glacier path over a period of 6 months
An iceberg was calved from the Petermann Glacier in 2010. Calving of glaciers is a normal process but this particular iceberg is twice the size of Manhattan (Eilperin & Samenow 1). It is therefore important to find out if the abovementioned iceberg will impede shipping lanes and damage ocean liners and other sea vessels.
An overview of the phenomenon of surface current will reveal that it is affected by wind and other factors. Therefore, the iceberg will definitely move out into the sea. However, in this particular case, the Petermann Glacier is located in the northernmost part of the globe, near the North Pole. At the same time, this iceberg “broke off further upstream, where the ice was right up against Greenland’s northwest section and the fjord’s rocky sidewalls, effectively created a damn and prevented the glacier’s seaward movement” (Zabarenko 1).
There is a good reason to be alarmed by the calving of a huge iceberg. According to Trudy Wohlleben of the Canadian Ice Service, the Peterman Glacier is known to “spawn big icebergs that invade the North Atlantic shipping lanes or imperil oil platforms in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland” (Zabarenko1). In other words, every time icebergs from the Peter Glacier breaks off, the surface current enables huge chunks of ice to float into this area. But the position of the recently calved iceberg should not be a cause for concern at least for sea vessels and oilrigs.