Seafloor Hazards and Marine Resources


How can we identify the natural hazards of the sea at an early stage?

The earth is a dynamic body under constant development: new ocean floor, which slides underneath the lighter continental plates at deep-sea trenches, is created at mid-ocean ridges. These processes are the fundamental sources of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity – the natural hazards which have disastrous consequences in many parts of the world. The scientists at GEOMAR are gaining a better understanding of these processes in order to create risk assessments for coastal areas and to warn against natural disasters at an early stage. Autonomous and remotely operated instruments, including ocean bottom seismometers and long-term geodetic observatories are just some of the innovative monitoring devices that are used for sensing and monitoring the sea floor. Information is generated by direct sampling and by indirect methods, such as seismic or hydroacoustic surveying. In addition, theoretical studies employing sophisticated computer models help to better understand the long-term processes that cannot be observed in the human lifespan.


How can we utilize marine resources in an environmentally sustainable way?

Biological, mineral and energetic ressources are found in the ocean and on the seabed. At GEOMAR, deposits and possible environmentally compatible uses are being investigated in various areas. A large number of mineral raw materials are hidden in the seabed, although the exact quantities and locations are still widely unknown. These include massive sulphides, which form in areas of volcanic activity at the plate boundaries in the oceans, as well as manganese nodules on the sediment-covered deep-sea plains. Research on marine mineral resources has been conducted at GEOMAR for many years. With an interdisciplinary research approach and in close scientific cooperation worldwide, opportunities and risks for the use of mineral resources are comprehensively examined. In addition to the search for new deposits and the assessment of the economic potential, the ecological risks of possible deep-sea mining are of great importance and are being researched by GEOMAR. This includes, for example, assessing the long-term effects and risks to the environment from deep-sea manganese nodule mining. Marine resources also include marine organisms that are rich in ingredients from which life-saving medicines and other multifunctional active substances can be obtained. The GEOMAR Centre for Marine Biotechnology (GEOMAR-Biotech) is a central component of the research unit Marine Natural Products Chemistry, where applied research in the field of marine biotechnology is located.

Further scientific information can be found on the pages of the Research Division 4: Dynamics of the Ocean Floor and with respect to biological ressources also in the Research Division 3: Marine Ecology

News for topic: Seafloor Hazards and Marine Resources

In summer 2017 30 ocean bottom seismometers were deployed from the French research vessel POURQUOI PAS? into the Ligurian Sea. During the current journey, they are recovered to evaluate the recorded data. Picture: Catherine Prequegnat/CNRS
05.02.2018

Alpine research in the Deep Sea – how does that fit together?

GEOMAR investigates the ‘Ligurian Knot’ as part of the AlpArray project

The habitat formed by manganese nodules is home to specific sessile and mobile fauna. Photo: ROV-Team, GEOMAR (CC BY 4.0)
05.01.2018

Deep-sea mining: serious consequences for the marine ecosystem

Scientists call for measures to protect the marine environment

The Nazca plate moves eastwards with a rate of 6.6 cm per year. Off the Chilean coast it collides with the South American plate and is submerged beneath it. In this process, strains build up between the plates - until they break and the earth trembles. Image reproduced from the GEBCO world map 2014, www.gebco.net
13.12.2017

Residual Strain despite Mega Earthquake

Even the strongest quake ever measured left energy for successors

Map showing the current distribution of exploration licences for nodule and sulphides in the Area, including the giant Clarion-Clipperton Zone manganese nodule field. Map: GEOMAR (see reference).
24.11.2017

Debate on deep-sea mining reaches new level

GEOMAR expert participates in high-level panel of the National Academy of Sciences

The habitat formed by manganese nodules is home to specific sessile and mobile fauna. Photo: ROV-Team, GEOMAR (CC BY 4.0)
18.10.2017

Deep-Sea Mining: Transparent Environmental Management Needed

Final meeting of the European research project “MiningImpact” at the NHM London

Model of an island volcano. During the last transition to glacial conditions the decreasing pressure at the seafloor could have induced increased lava- and carbon dioxide emissions. Graphic: Jörg Hasenclever
06.07.2017

Falling Sea Level caused Volcanos to Overflow

A Team of international researches found new connections between the solid earth and the climate system

Visualization of the model Dr. Burwicz-Galerne used to simulate the development of the gas hydrate deposits in the Green Canyon. Graphic: Ewa Burwicz-Galerne
30.06.2017

Gas hydrate younger than previously thought

GEOMAR researcher awarded for complex computer models of the seafloor

Since the December 2015, the GeoSEA network is measuring the tectonic strain off the coast of northern Chile in up to 5800 meters of water depth. Photo: Jan Steffen, GEOMAR
28.06.2017

Chile – a hub for geoscientific research

Partners of the Chilean Plate Boundary Observatory IPOC meet at GEOMAR

Reconstructed 3D model of a nanotomography. The left picture shows uraninite (uranium ore) that surrounds gold. In the right picture, a computer programme was used the remove the uraninite to illustrate the large volume hidden in the uranium ore.
20.04.2017

The formation of gold deposits in South Africa

German-Canadian research team discovers new ore-forming process in ancient marine sedimentary basin

Thousands of lava and magma samples are archived in the GEOMAR rock repository. Some of these samples were used by the international science team to trace the way of the water down to the earth's mantle. Photo: Jan Steffen, GEOMAR
28.02.2017

Water cycles much deeper than previously thought

New study in Nature Geoscience reveals influence of subduction on the entire mantle