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Interdisciplinary Seminar: Sarah Donaher
November 12, 2018 @ 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm
An interdisciplinary seminar from UNC Marine Sciences graduate student, Sarah Donaher. Presented by the UNC-CH Department of Marine Sciences and UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS). The main location of this event will be in seminar room 222 at IMS in Morehead City, NC. The seminar will be streamed live to room G201 on the ground floor of Murray Hall on UNC-CH campus in Chapel Hill, NC. This event will be held on Monday, November 12th at 12:20pm.
Seminar Title: Deep Sea Mining: Predicting the Sources of Serious Harm
Abstract: As technological advances in deep-sea mining operations bring the ocean closer to a new form of large-scale exploitation, it is vital to assess the sources of serious harm to sensitive deep-sea ecosystems under typical mining scenarios. The susceptibility of an ecosystem to experience extensive and potentially irreversible harm as a consequence of deep-sea mining is dependent upon the geological, chemical, and biological characteristics of each exploited system. Abyssal plains host high densities of valuable manganese nodules which in turn support diverse communities of nodule-obligate fauna. Nodule growth is one of the slowest known geological processes and their removal could result in large-scale biodiversity loss in one of Earth’s most understudied ecosystems. Similarly, deep sea hydrothermal vents and associated Seafloor Massive Sulfide (SMS) deposits are also at risk under mining conditions. Vent-endemic communities are based on sensitive symbioses between chemoautotrophic bacteria and invertebrates and contain some of the most uniquely adapted species in the world. Deep-sea mining of SMS deposits would create metal-rich plumes and subsequent bioaccumulation of toxins in these food webs. Cobalt-rich crusts on seamounts are already under pressure from anthropogenic activities such as seamount fisheries and human-induced climate change. Mining on seamounts could lead to degradation of wide swathes of deep-sea corals and cause cascading harm to higher trophic levels, including several fish species vital to human populations. Each deep-sea ecosystem has unique vulnerabilities and recovery rates. Before any commercial deep-sea mining operation is approved, there is a demonstrated need for long-term ecological studies, transparent scientific assessments, and the development of ethical mining practices.