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Mineral resources

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Research priorities

The group focuses on the exploration of various marine mineral deposits (manganese nodules, massive sulphides, iron-manganese crusts, phosphorites) and analyses of their resource potential. Looking to the future, one research focus is the investigation of possible environmental impacts of deep-sea mining. The strategy group sees itself as an "honest broker" and sees its contribution in the unbiased dissemination of information to all stakeholders.

Distribution of Marine Mineral Resources

  • Resource research at regional level - setting up predictive models of possible mineral deposits (predictive mapping)
  • Production of geological maps of the deep sea
  • Global resource assessment and standardisation of work protocols taking into account numerical modelling.

Environmental consequences of deep-sea mining

  • Comprehensive assessment of the potential environmental impact of deep-sea mining
  • Establishment and control of environmental protection zones in the deep sea (Areas of Particular Environmental Interest)
  • Development of standards and guidelines for environmental assessment and the Establishment of innovative technologies in the exploration of possible mining areas, pilot mining tests and possible mining activities
  • Development of environmentally friendly, zero-waste processing methods for manganese nodules and iron-manganese crusts
  • Legal control and monitoring of deep-sea resources

Stakeholder exchange

  • Advising politics and the economy
  • Public relations work in a wide range of media; taking into account social aspects and involving society in the issue of deep-sea mining with the aim of providing unbiased information to all stakeholders (honest broker).
  • Comparative assessment of the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining and other metal-extracting processes, such as land mining and recycling.

Projects

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Members

Dr Christian Müller (Co-director)

Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources

Research interests:

  • Exploration of marine mineral deposits
  • Environmental impacts of future deep-sea mining
  • Geological structure and energy resource potential of the continental margins
  • Marine seismic measurement procedures and method development
  • Geological potentials of the CO2-Storage
Dr Christian Müller has been head of the "Marine Resource Exploration" department at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in Hannover since 2017. After completing his doctorate in geophysics at Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, he moved to BGR, where he initially conducted research on gas hydrates and the structural geology of active and passive continental margins. Afterwards, he worked for several years on the geological potential for CO2 storage in Germany. Currently, his work focuses on the occurrence and use of marine mineral resources (manganese nodules and polymetallic sulphides) as well as marine structural geological and geophysical investigations in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and North Atlantic.

Prof. Dr Andrea Koschinsky-Fritsche (Co-director)

Jacobs University Bremen

Research interests: 

  • (Bio-)geochemical cycle of trace metals in seawater
  • Formation and resource potential of marine mineral deposits
  • Environmental impacts of deep-sea mining
  • "solid-solution reactions"
  • Geo-bio interfaces in marine systems
Andrea Koschinsky is Professor of Geosciences at Jacobs University Bremen and a member of the MARUM Research Centre, the DFG Senate Commission on Earth System Research, the Advisory Board of the DeepSea Mining Alliance and Co-Chair of the KDM Strategy Group Marine Mineral Resources. Her main research interests are environmental geochemistry, in particular the analysis, chemical speciation and (bio-)geochemical cycling of trace metals in seawater, solid solution reactions, metal-biota interactions and the properties and behaviour of hydrothermal fluids. In the field of deep-sea mining research, she is concerned with the chemical composition, formation and resource potential of marine mineral deposits and the environmental impacts associated with their exploitation.

Dr Christian Borowski

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

Research interests:

  • Ecology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon sources
  • Genetic connectivity of deep-sea invertebrates and their bacterial symbionts
  • Phylogeny and function of animal-bacterial symbioses
  • Impacts of deep-sea mining on benthic communities
Christian Borowski started as a PhD student at the Univ. of Hamburg in the pioneering in-situ experiment DISCOL, which investigated the effects of deep-sea mining on benthic communities. He continued this work as a postdoc in the follow-up programme ATESEPP at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research. Later work included research on chemosynthetic hydrothermal vent symbioses and the dynamics of microbial methane formation and degradation in organic-rich continental margin sediments. His current work at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology focuses on chemosynthetic symbioses at deep-sea sources and springs, with an emphasis on the use of food resources by symbiotic bacteria, the phylogenetic relationships of hosts and symbionts, and the genetic connectivity between geographically separated symbiotic populations on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Dr Philipp Brandl

GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Research interests:

  • Critical metals in magmatic-hydrothermal systems
  • Temporal evolution of magmatic systems
  • Geodynamic controls for georesources
  • Geology and exploration of the seabed
  • Oceanic volcanism
Dr Philipp A. Brandl is a trained magmatic petrologist and geochemist with diverse research interests ranging from volcanology and the evolution of magmatic systems to geodynamics and ore deposit research. His research focuses on critical metals and metalloids in submarine magmatic-hydrothermal systems. The methods used in his research include petrology, geochemical and spatial analyses, and modelling. He completed his PhD at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg and spent two years as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the renowned Australian National University in Canberra before taking up his current position as a researcher in the Marine Mineral Resources Group at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

Dr Sebastian Fuchs

Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources

Research interests: 

  • Formation of hydrothermal ore deposits in the sea and on land
  • Geochemistry and mineralogy of ore deposits
  • Mobility and distribution of metals in hydrothermal systems
  • Deposit modelling - and evaluation
  • Micro- and nanoanalytics for research into mineral raw materials
Sebastian Fuchs is a geochemist, mineralogist & exploration geologist for ore deposits and deputy head of the "Marine Geology / Exploration" department at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources. His work focuses on the deposit geology of the German exploration licence for massive sulphide deposits in the Indian Ocean (INDEX), as well as on the exploration and evaluation of ore deposits in South America and South Africa for securing raw materials of high-tech, precious and non-ferrous metals. His research focuses on the formation and alteration of ore deposits, hydrothermal transport and enrichment of metals, fluid-rock interactions, modelling of deposit processes and resources.
Sebastian studied Mineralogy/Geology at the University of Leipzig and Economic Geology at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He completed his PhD in hydrothermal geochemistry/reservoirs at McGill University in 2015. Sebastian has also worked as an exploration/mining geologist for mining companies.

Dr Matthias Haeckel

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Research interests:
  • Environmental impacts of deep-sea mining
  • Cold springs and gas hydrate systems
  • CO2 storage under the seabed
  • Marine carbon cycle
Matthias Haeckel is a marine biogeochemist at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. He studied chemistry and received his PhD in geology/palaeontology from CAU Kiel in 2000. In his research, he combines field research at sea with numerical modelling and high-pressure experiments to intertwine and quantify early diagenetic processes and their modification by anthropogenic use of the ocean - e.g. methane hydrate as well as oil and gas production, CO2 storage, deep-sea mining - beneath the seafloor. Since 2015, he has coordinated the large European collaborative project MiningImpact on the environmental risks and impacts of deep-sea mining.

Dr Luise Heinrich

Jacobs University Bremen and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Research interests: 

  • Interdisciplinary environmental impact research
  •  Sustainability science
  • Contribution of deep-sea mining to sustainable development
  • Comparison of the environmental impacts of onshore and deep-sea mining
  • Quantification and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions related to deep-sea mining
Luise Heinrich has specialised in environmental and sustainability sciences. After her B.Sc. in "Integrated Environmental Studies", her M.Sc. in "Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science" and her PhD in "Geoscience", she now works as a research associate at Jacobs University Bremen and at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, where she coordinates the JPI-Oceans MiningImpact project, among others. Her research focuses on deep-sea mining, in particular on the quantification and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the exploitation of marine mineral resources, the potential contribution of deep-sea mining to sustainable development, and the comparative assessment of the impacts of land and deep-sea mining.

Dr Manuel Keith

Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, GeoCentre Northern Bavaria

Research interests:

  • Mineralogy and geochemistry of massive sulphides
  • Enrichment of critical metals through hydrothermal processes
  • Metal sources for hydrothermal fluids in the oceanic crust
  • Evolution of marine sulphide deposits through space and time
  • Critical metals at the micro and nano level
Manuel Keith is a geochemist and deposit scientist at the Northern Bavaria GeoCentre at Friedrich Alexander University (FAU) Erlangen-Nuremberg. His research focuses on the interaction of magmatic and hydrothermal systems and the resulting consequences for the enrichment of critical metals in mineral deposits of the Earth's crust. These questions are addressed primarily through mineralogical and geochemical investigations, with microanalytics and isotope geochemistry playing a central role in particular.

Manuel Keith completed his doctorate at FAU before working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leicester in the UK and then as a research assistant in applied geochemistry at TU Berlin. Since June 2021, he has been leading an FAU junior research group working on the enrichment of critical metals in the Earth's crust.

Dr Terue C. Kihara

INES Integrated Environmental Solutions UG c/o Senckenberg am Meer - DZMB

Research interests:

  • Meio-, macro- and megafauna of hydrothermal systems
  • Taxonomy and systematics of benthic copepods
  • DNA barcoding and NGS - Next Generation Sequencing
  • CLSM - Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy
I started my career at the University of São Paulo researching the taxonomy and systematics of Copepoda for my PhD. For several years I worked with integrative taxonomy of crustaceans, combining classical morphology, confocal laser scanning microscopy/scanning electron microscopy imaging techniques and genetic methods. During this time I was also involved in several research projects on meio-, macro- and megafauna biodiversity. Currently, I am a research associate at INES Integrated Environmental Solutions UG c/o Senckenberg am Meer - DZMB and my research interests focus on studying the fauna associated with polymetallic sulphides of Indian Ocean hydrothermal vents to characterise the benthic communities along the central and south-eastern Indian Ridge, especially in terms of species diversity and distribution, as well as to identify the factors that control and maintain diversity in these areas.

Dr Charlotte Kleint

MARUM Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen & Jacobs University Bremen

Research interests: 

  • Geochemical fluid composition of shallow and deep-sea hydrothermal spring systems
  • Stabilisation and transport of hydrothermally extracted metals in the water column
  • Trace metal flows in the ocean
  • Organic and inorganic complexation of trace metals

Dr Thomas Kuhn

Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources

Research interests:

  • Mineralogy and geochemistry of marine mineral resources
  • Assessment of the resource potential of the deposits
  • Processing and metallurgy of ores
  • Development of drilling and mining technologies
Dr Thomas Kuhn is the head of the project "Exploration of Marine Sulphide Deposits in the Indian Ocean Licence Area (INDEX)" at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in Hannover. After completing his doctorate in marine geology at the Free University of Berlin, he worked as a research assistant at TU Bergakademie Freiberg and GEOMAR Kiel before moving to BGR in 2010. There, he initially worked on the geological exploration of manganese nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the northeast Pacific, up to the deposit assessment in the German licence area. In addition to the geological work, the processing and extraction of metals from the marine raw materials also played an important role. After moving to the INDEX project, he is interested in the 3-dimensional spread and resource potential of the sulphide deposits on and in the seabed, in addition to the management tasks in the project.

Dr Sven Petersen

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Research interests:

  • Formation and development of marine mineral deposits
  • Global assessments of marine resource potential
  • Mineralogy and geochemistry of massive sulphides on the seabed
  • Development of exploration technologies
Sven Petersen received his PhD from the University of Freiberg in 2000 after working for several years in Germany and Canada on hydrothermal systems on the seabed. He stayed in Freiberg until 2004, when he moved to GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. His research focuses on understanding the processes that form and change hydrothermal systems on the seafloor over time. He spent over 36 months at sea exploring all ocean basins. Key objectives of his research are to understand the evolution and chemical and mineralogical variability and resource potential of submarine massive sulphides and other marine mineral deposits. He uses mobile drilling techniques and various geophysical methods as well as autonomous underwater vehicles to search for and evaluate these mineral deposits.

Prof. Dr. Sylvia Sander

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Research interests: 

  • Trace metal speciation in and around marine mineral resources
  • Biogeochemistry of hydrothermal vents and plumes
  • Bioavailability of metals
  • Anthropogenic metal contamination
Sylvia Sander is Helmholtz Distinguished Professor for Marine Mineral Resources at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel with a joint appointment at Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel. Her research interests include speciation and toxicity of trace metals in the marine ecosystem, especially in and around hydrothermal vents. Before joining the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2017 as Section Head of the Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory in Monaco, she was Research Associate Professor and Director of the NIWA/Research Centre for Oceanography at the University of Otago/New Zealand. She completed her studies at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern.

Dr Ulrich Schwarz-Schampera

Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources | currently International Seabed Authority

Dr Rebecca Zitoun

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Research interests: 

  • Biogeochemistry of trace metals
  • Chemical and physical speciation of trace metals
  • Hydrothermal biogeochemistry
  • Bioavailability of metals
  • Ecotoxicology/anthropogenic metal contamination
  • Environmental impacts of deep-sea mining
  • Marine Capacity Development/Ocean Literacy/ Sustainable Development
Rebecca Zitoun is a postdoctoral researcher in the Marine Mineral Resources Group at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. She studied Earth and Marine Sciences and completed her PhD in Marine Biogeochemistry at the University of Otago (New Zealand) in 2019. Her research interests include speciation and toxicity of trace metals in marine ecosystems, metal-biota interactions, and biogeochemistry of metals in and around hydrothermal vents. She is also involved in marine science capacity building in developing countries, as well as science communication, outreach, and ocean education through her position as an active member of the Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOPs) of the UN Ocean Decade and as a Young Ambassador of the European Marine Board.
Former members with advisory functions

Prof. Dr Peter Halbach

Prof. Dr Mark Hannington

Dr James Hein

Dr Hermann Kudrass

Dr Karsten Haase