Technological development to harmonize the development of deep-sea mineral resources and environmental conservation

Attention has been focused on the development of deep-sea mineral resources, and exploration activities are being conducted throughout the world. At the same time, interest in environmental impact has also increased, and stricter environmental impact assessment (EIA) and evaluation techniques supporting these activities are required. The current environmental impact assessment technology depends on technology that has been established in oceanography thus far. However, considering the economic activity of resource development, not only the accuracy of the survey data but also the efficiency and economy, is also required for EIA technology.
Given this, we are developing technologies suitable for EIA of resource development. For example, Edokko Mark 1 is a “long-term continuous observatory system,” by which fluctuations of the seabed environment on a daily, monthly, or seasonal basis can be studied. To understand changes on a monthly basis or a seasonal unit without continuous observation, it is necessary to extend the number of days of the research cruise or to increase the number of cruises; however, in this case the economic burden is large. Thus, the proposed system has practical merits, and it is registered in the repository of IOC-UNESCO’s technical database for international standardization.
In addition, we are developing an automated sorting technology for small benthic animals, establishing a turbulence observation method for understanding the behavior of a plume just above the seafloor, designing 3-D observational systems for mid-water planktonic organisms, and building an efficient habitat map in creating methods to understand the distribution of benthic organisms.

Seabed observatory system: Edokko Mark 1 (Furushima et al., in press)
Protocol series for Environmental Impact Assessment technologies

Environmental Impact Assessment Research Group, Research and Development (R&D) Center for Submarine Resources