EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Exploring ocean floor geodiversity in relation to mineral resources in the Pacific Ocean

Harry Seijmonsbergen1, Sanne Valentijn2, Lisan Westerhof3, and Kenneth Rijsdijk1
Harry Seijmonsbergen et al.
  • 1University of Amsterdam, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Biogeography and Macroecology, Amsterdam, Netherlands (
  • 2Wageningen University & Research, Water Systems and Global Change Group, Environmental Sciences, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • 3University of Amsterdam, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Amsterdam, Netherlands

There is a growing demand for mineral resources such as metals and rare earth elements, but global terrestrial resources are rapidly declining. Alternatively, the ocean floor provides unprecedented mining potential. However, their occurrences  in relation to ocean floor geodiversity is largely unexplored. Therefore, it is unclear what the (irreversible) potential impact of future mining is on ocean floor geodiversity.

Here, we quantify the ocean floor geodiversity of the West-Pacific ocean floor and explore the distribution of three mineral resources: polymetallic sulfides, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts and polymetallic nodules.  We developed a workflow for the calculation of a geodiversity index composed of openly available geomorphological, sediment thickness, bathymetric and derived ocean floor roughness input data in ArcGIS Pro.

Our results show a large variety in geodiversity on the West-Pacific ocean floor, ranging from very low and low geodiversity on large plateaus and in wide trenches and throughs, to high and very high geodiversity in heterogeneous, patchy environments on shelves, basins and abyssal plains. Regression analysis results indicate that polymetallic sulfides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts positively correlate to the geodiversity index, while polymetallic nodules indicate a negative correlation.  Further analysis will focus on refining and expanding this method to a global extent by adding ocean floor age, a possible important factor, into the geodiversity assessment.

Our findings suggest that understanding of ocean floor geodiversity can contribute to promote sustainable mining and support conservation of the ocean floor.

How to cite: Seijmonsbergen, H., Valentijn, S., Westerhof, L., and Rijsdijk, K.: Exploring ocean floor geodiversity in relation to mineral resources in the Pacific Ocean, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-693,, 2021.


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