Three M.I.T. projects related to deep sea mining are presented:

  • The Vertical Ocean Mining System combines a highly reliable hydraulic mineral recovery device with a stable surface platform.

  • The Underwater Robot is able to conduct large area surveys of mineral deposits.

  • Ocean Mining Site Evaluation Program is able to process data on possible mining locations in order to establish the economically best choice over a given time.


As a consequences of the rising interest in manganese nodule as a new source of raw materials, various research institutions and universities have started projects exploring different aspects of deep sea mining. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, such projects have included:

  • The development, design and model testing of a deep sea mining system.

  • The development and testing of a self-propelled deep ocean bottom vehicle for site survey and mining work.

  • The development and constuction of an under water robot for large area surveys and general oceanographic research.

  • Research in new materials for deep oceans application.

  • Development of ocean mining site evaluation program.

  • A study on legal and fiscal aspects of deep sea mining, conducted jointly with the Harvard Law School.

  • A study on business opportunities and managerial problems of deep sea mining, conducted jointly with the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management.

M.I.T. has emphasized in these studies, the importance of applying the broad spectrum of academic resources available at the Institution to the many complex problems deep sea mining companies are and will be faced with. In this paper, three technical projects will be discussed in detail.


The Vertical Ocean Mining System was developed by J.O. Willums and D. Hody at the Swiss -Federal Institute of Technology during 1970 and 1971. The objective of the initial systems analysis was to set forth the engineering requirements for an integrated deep sea mining system. The goal was to develop a ystem which:

  • Would be sufficiently weather stable to be fully operational under 95% of all weather conditions and sea states of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Would contain all power gear and control equipment in an environment under atmospheric pressure, easily accesible for control and service.

  • Would be based on well established technologies, and designed and constructed within a resonably short timespan.

  • Would have comparatively lowinitial investment costs and competitive operating costs.

Based on these requirements,a system with a sparbuoy-like surface station was designed and its dimensions optimezed using linear optimization techniques

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