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Deep-sea mining on the Rio Grande Rise (Southwestern Atlantic): A review on environmental baseline, ecosystem services and potential impacts

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Montserrat, Francesc [1] ; Guilhon, Maila [1] ; Ferraz Correa, Paulo Vinicius [1] ; Bergo, Natascha Menezes [1] ; Signori, Camila Negrao [1] ; Tura, Pedro Marone [1] ; Maly, Mascimiliano de los Santos [2] ; Moura, Denise [2] ; Jovane, Luigi [2] ; Pellizari, Vivian [1] ; Gomes Sumida, Paulo Yukio [1] ; Brandini, Frederico Pereira [1] ; Turra, Alexander [1]
Número total de Autores: 13
Afiliação do(s) autor(es):
[1] Univ Sao Paulo, Inst Oceanog, Dept Biol Oceanog, Praca Oceanog 191, BR-05508120 Sao Paulo, SP - Brazil
[2] Univ Sao Paulo, Inst Oceanog, Dept Phys Chem & Geol Oceanog, Praca Oceanog 191, BR-05508120 Sao Paulo, SP - Brazil
Número total de Afiliações: 2
Tipo de documento: Artigo Científico
Citações Web of Science: 1

The Rio Grande Rise is an extensive seamount region in the South-western Atlantic, with potential for deep-sea mining activities in the future. Such activities pose significant long-term disturbances and potentially severe impacts to both ecosystem structure and functioning, as well as associated ecosystem services. The Rio Grande Rise presents a severely understudied area, with very little knowledge on either local and regional scales. Most detailed knowledge available is centered on highly localised geological information and interpolated and/or modelled environmental data, while high-resolution data on biogeography, ecosystem processes and functioning are lacking. The Rio Grande Rise is most likely a remnant of the Parana-Etendeka igneous province, and formed when the African and South-American plates separated to form the Southern Atlantic basin, about 75 million years ago. More recent cruises have generated very local and high-resolution acoustic impedance data on the substrate, showing extremely dense layers, likely to be cobalt-rich crusts and underlying bedrock, interspersed with thick sediment layers. Literature studies revealed that nowadays the Rise appears to be located within a relatively low-productivity oceanic region. Open-database mining yielded large-scale, extrapolated environmental data rasters, which show the Rise to be an oceanic region relatively free of pollution and anthropogenic disturbances, with high geomorphological heterogeneity and potential for high biodiversity. This image was confirmed in a small number of scientific submarine cruises, where a diverse range of seascapes was observed, from soft sediment to carbonate pavement and cobalt crust outcrops. Especially the latter substrata were found to be inhabited by diverse benthic communities, dominated by sessile organisms, presenting three-dimensional structural heterogeneity and with associated vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Cobalt-rich crusts appear to grow at an extremely slow rate of several mm per million years, in the deep ocean where biological and ecological processes such as reproduction, growth and recolonisation are characterised by slow dynamics. The main disturbances posed by deep-sea mining of cobalt-rich crusts on the Rio Grande Rise consist of (1) complete removal of substrate with its particular benthic communities, (2) strong localised increases in suspended particulate matter, causing smothering of breathing apparatus and dilution of food particles, (3) crushing by tailings and overburden and (4) toxicity effects by released metals and other toxic substances, likely to be increased under high pressure. These impacts will likely change the deep-sea ecosystem at the Rio Grande Rise and its functioning for time scales in the order of decades to centuries. State-of-the-art geological, environmental and ecological modelling, complemented with high-quality, fine-resolution data are needed to provide a detailed evaluation of the impacts of cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust mining in the Rio Grande Rise, with the goal to formulate strategic environmental management plans. (AU)

Processo FAPESP: 16/16183-5 - A contribuição da quimiossíntese no ciclo do carbono em zonas abissais da elevação do Rio Grande (Oceano Atlântico Sul ocidental)
Beneficiário:Camila Negrão Signori
Linha de fomento: Bolsas no Brasil - Pós-Doutorado
Processo FAPESP: 17/11884-8 - Estrutura e Ecologia das comunidades bentônicas da elevação do Rio Grande e sua conservação diante da mineração de mar profundo
Beneficiário:Paulo Vinicius Ferraz Corrêa
Linha de fomento: Bolsas no Brasil - Doutorado
Processo FAPESP: 16/24677-8 - Oportunidades e desafios para incorporação da abordagem ecossistêmica na conservação de fundos marinhos: estudo de caso sobre a exploração mineral na Elevação do Rio Grande
Beneficiário:Maila Paisano Guilhon e Sá
Linha de fomento: Bolsas no Brasil - Doutorado
Processo FAPESP: 14/50820-7 - Marine ferromanganese deposits: a major resource of E-tech elements
Beneficiário:Frederico Pereira Brandini
Linha de fomento: Auxílio à Pesquisa - Temático
Processo FAPESP: 16/10091-1 - Sustentabilidade da mineração de depósitos de ferro-manganês na Elevação do Rio Grande
Beneficiário:Francesc Montserrat Trotsenburg
Linha de fomento: Bolsas no Brasil - Pós-Doutorado