gold mining equipment west coast placer

gold mining equipment west coast placer

Mining the Ocean Floor with Robots West Coast Placer

The ocean also has types of deposits that we cant find on land. One special mineral deposit is called Polymetallic Nodules. These are concretions of metallic minerals that occur under the ocean. The nodules grow sort of like stalactites do in a cave, over time layers of metallic minerals precipitate out of seawater and add to the nodule. The growth of nodules is one of the slowest known geological processes taking place at a rate of one centimetre over several million years. Polymetallic nodules are roughly the size and shape of a potato and contain primarily manganese as well as nickel, copper, cobalt and iron. They can be found on the sea floor or buried in the sediment. Nodules can technically occur anywhere in the ocean but seem to be in greatest abundance on the abyssal planes around 5000m deep. Nodule mining would be similar to placer gold mining except under water. Anouther resource that is unique to the ocean floor is Ferromanganese Crusts. These are similar to nodules but...

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Large scale ocean floor mining has not taken off yet. Attempts have been made since the 1960s and 70s but failed due to technological and financial challenges. Small scale shallow ocean mining has been a lot more succesful in recent years. A great example is the popular TV show Bering Sea Gold. The miners in Nome Alaska are using modified suction dredges to comb the sea floor in shallow waters. Currently proposed sea floor mining ideas are essentially super high tech placer mining. They involve ways to dig through the surface layers of the ocean floor, bring the material to the surface and ship it to a processing facility. Its a lot like dredging but on a massive scale. As mentioned above, normal hard rock deposits also occur under the ocean but no plans have been proposed to build open pit mines under the ocean. That would involve all the challenges of building a mine on land with the added complexity of operating under the ocean. Why is ocean floor mining possible now when it wasn...

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Ocean floor prospecting is not a good place to be gold panning or hiking around with a rock hammer. It is also difficult to take usable photos due to poor light and lots of debris in the water. So how do you explore for minerals in the ocean? Geophysics and robots. Geophysical exploration is not unique to the ocean. The same techniques are used routinely on land to find every type of mineral deposit. Ocean geophysics is also not new. The main workhorse of mining exploration is magnetometry. Which means mapping changes in earths magnetic field using a specialized sensor. The technique was actually developed to detect enemy submarines during World War II. Since then magnetometers and the science behind them have evolved into accurate tools to measure geology. Im using a proton precession magnetometer in the photo below. There is some sample magnetometer data on the left. Mag maps look similar to a thermal image except the colour scale represents magnetic field changes (measured in n...

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