Sunday, May 6, 2012

No. 505: In search of rare metals in deep sea (May 7, 2012)

Tokyo University and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) developed a technology to search veins of rare metals and precious metals in deep sea with the help of subtle changes of gravity. The research team will conduct the exploratory test using an unmanned submersible with built-in gravity measurement equipment this September to pave the way for the exploration of abundant submarine resources in the sea near Japan.

The research team developed the method to know whether or not a vein exists by paying attention to the fact that density increases and gravity increases slightly if a mass of heavy metals exists under the ground. The unmanned submersible “Urashima” that belongs to Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology will be loaded with gravity measurement equipment, and will go round the ocean floor about 1,000 m below the sea surface for research for three days off Shizuoka Prefecture. Following the official approval of Japan’s continental shelf by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (OLCS) of the United Nations, the Japanese government decided to expand the activities to explore undersea resources. The research results achieved by the research team will be presented on May 22 in the Japan Geoscience Union Meeting scheduled for a four day period between May 22 and May 25 in Makuhari Messe of Chiba Prefecture. 

 The unmanned submersible "Urashima"

"Urashima" in action 

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