In October/November 2008 the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources accomplished its first exploration cruise to the German license area in the Pacific Nodule Belt. The scientific program aboard the R/V Kilo Moana included precise bathymetric and backscatter mapping, a survey of the geographical distribution and regional abundances of the polymetallic nodules as well as the determination of their chemical composition, and a magnetic anomaly profiling along the cruise track from Honolulu (158°W) southeast to 116°W. About half of each of the two parts of the license area has been mapped and thirty-eight box core samples were taken during the six-week expedition. These plain areas are punctuated by extinct volcanoes arising 500 to 2000 m above the seafloor. The nodule size ranges between 1 and 15 cm (mean: 3 cm) with nodules >3 cm accounting for 80 % of the total nodule mass. Nodule abundances range between 1 and 27 kg m-2 (mean: 13 kg m-2) in Area E1 and 1 to 25 kg m-2 (mean: 8 kg m-2) in Area W1. Total concentrations of Cu, Ni and Co range between 1.9 to 2.9 wt.% (mean: 2.6) in Area E1 and 1.6 to 3.2 wt.% (mean: 2.6) in Area W1. The magnetic profiling resulted in oceanic crustal ages of 22 to 23 Ma for the eastern part of the license area (12°N/118°W) and 53 Ma for the western part (13°N/138°W). The reconstruction of the paleogeographic history of the oceanic crust underlying the license areas showed that the eastern part originated from 103°W/8°N. The western part was generated at 109°W/3°S and moved northwestward across the equatorial upwelling area during the past 53 Ma.
Germany's industry heavily depends on the continuous import of mineral commodities such as manganese, copper, nickel, and cobalt.