VANCOUVER, British Columbia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Metals Company, (formerly DeepGreen Metals), an explorer of the world’s largest estimated source of battery metals for electric vehicles (EVs), today announced that Environmental Expedition 5B, which focuses on characterizing the pelagic or open sea component of the marine environment in its NORI-D contract area, is conducting research on site in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Pacific Ocean. The research campaign is the first of five science expeditions planned for this year as part of an ongoing, multi-year seafloor-to-surface research program — the most rigorous and integrated deep-sea study to date.
The current expedition on the Maersk Launcher, with a crew of 57 people, includes a team of 37 marine researchers from independent institutions including the University of Hawaii, Texas A&M University and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). The team is currently conducting an extensive examination of the CCZ’s pelagic biology from the macro to the microbial level to understand the impacts of sediment plumes on deep-ocean fauna and the mid-water column, among other work streams. The data collected will also inform how The Metals Company plans to collect polymetallic nodules with minimal ecological disruption prior to testing its prototype nodule harvester vehicle – currently being built by its partner Allseas – in the CCZ early next year.
The suite of cutting-edge technologies on Expedition 5B include remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), suction samplers, current/temp/depth rosettes, MOCNESS nets to collect pelagic biota, 4K cameras, and landers to sample seawater and suspended sediments from just above the sea floor. This equipment enables researchers to study the entire water column, from its sunlit surface waters down to where nodules sit atop the sediment on the abyssal plain, which at three miles deep is shrouded in perpetual darkness and under immense pressure. An autonomous Saildrone will also collect information on water chemistry and marine biomass as it tracks the ship throughout the expedition. Other organizations involved in the current research include Pelagic Research Services, LLC, Gravity Marine, and UTEC Services.
“Over the past few years, we’ve thrown ourselves into the research, completing over ten expeditions to the Clarion Clipperton Zone, which have helped to deepen our understanding of our operating environment, a crucial step in ensuring its protection,” said Chairman and CEO Gerard Barron. “The campaigns planned for 2021 will go even further. By the time we complete these original studies, we will have invested more than $75 million into this research, which will represent the largest ever seafloor-to-surface ocean science research program conducted in the CCZ.”
“This is a challenging mission to prepare for given the number of studies and the complexity of the equipment required,” said
The Metals Company Environment Manager Dr. Michael Clarke. “We’re motivated by the potential of our research to expand society’s understanding of the deep sea and analyze the impact of TMC’s proposed operations.”