Deep Sea Mining: A Race for Material

by Izaak Garcia

When people think of the deep sea, it is often linked with dark and intimidating monsters that devour people in one bite, hostile to everything around them. But the real threat is humans. The process of deep sea mining involves obtaining minerals and other resources taken from the ocean floor and turning them into products such as watches, electronics, and much more. The most common deep sea mining sites are in the Pacific Ocean, between the countries of Japan and Australia, stretching all the way to the west coasts of North and South America.

Many popular and valuable minerals such as silver, copper, and gold are in high demand all around the world. While many areas of the world such as Tanzania and the Arctic are rich in minerals and precious metals, the main source where these materials can be found are in the ocean floor. Because of this, more and more countries are expanding their own individual deep sea mining industries. But in the end, enough is never enough.

The majority of the research being done by organizations such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on deep sea mining is aimed towards the protection of systems called hydrothermal vents (areas of the ocean where seawater meets magma). Underwater volcanoes and tectonic plate boundaries create ridges and converge to form these hydrothermal vents. Surprisingly, around these vents, scientists found a whole new biological community and environment. These marine organisms rely on the chemical processes that occur in the hydrothermal vents to survive and function in this deep sea atmosphere.

But scientists and environmental activists are still trying to come up with solutions that ensure that companies can continue to mine safely from the deep sea without harming and disrupting the natural ecosystem. This process takes time, and meanwhile more environments are being destroyed and uprooted by deep sea mining machines and equipment. All around the world, countries are expanding their own deep sea mining industry, but a huge concentration of mines exist in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Pacific Ocean.

Citizens interested in making a difference can write to their representatives in congress. Voting is an important responsibility—paying attention to each candidate’s views and positions can help the environment. Along with these two suggestions, supporting non-profit organizations that protect the oceans is an extremely useful way for citizens to involve themselves. Organizations such as the Deep Sea Coalition aim to protect all parts of the deep sea, from its ocean floor to the biodiversity of the species living there. To get involved and support the Deep Sea Coalition, you can go to their website.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a senior at Richwoods High School, enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. After high school, Garcia plans to study Computer Science. He has played soccer with FC Peoria and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and Computer Science for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two total productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new coding languages, and video games.