Abstract:

The paper describes the application of mesoscale and large scale models in order to simulate the impact of deep-sea mining sediment discharges on the marine environment. The modelling efforts are crosslinked with the experiments of the TUSCII research group which provide supporting data. The results yield time-dependent, three-dimensional concentration fields, the amount of redeposition and the plume residence time. The near bed emissions impact mainly at a local scale, whereas more widespread contamination due to discharges at the free surface or in some intermediate depth cannot be excluded.

Introduction

The results of the mesoscale and large scale modelling described in this contribution were achieved within the research activities of the interdisciplinary TUSCH research group (German: Tiefsee-Umweltschutz, i.e. deep-sea environment protection). The reader is referred to Thiel et. al. and Schriever in this issue for background information and a description of the scientific aims, the research program and achievements, as well. as the environmental aspects of deep-sea mining. The activities of the TUSCH group concentrate on the impact assessment of manganese nodule deposit exploitation. Assessing the environmental impact of human activities in the deep sea, with special attention to the nuclear waste dumping has been the topic of numerous, past research. Additionally, appropriate mining technologies have been developed and tested in many countries. This has shown that deep-sea mining is feasible from the" technological point of view (e.g. Bischoff and Piper, Eds., 1979j Halbach et al., Eds., 1988j Kunzendorf, 1988). Field tests have shown that, even with the most modern technologies, the mining will inevitably be accompanied by resuspension of some bottom sediments and ore particles and extensive damage to the sea floor (Lavelle et aI., 1981j Lavelle et a1., 1982j Thiel, 1991). Depending on the technology, the discharges will take place in different depths and intensity.

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