Abstract

There are three Marine Minerals Technology Centers comprising the Continental Shelf Division (CSD) at the University of Mississippi focusing on the continental shelf regions of the United States, the Ocean Basins Division (OBD) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa which focuses on deep seabeds and the nearshore environments of islands, and the Arctic Seas Division (ASD) at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, focusing on arctic and cold water regions. Their mission, prescribed in the Marine Mineral Resources Research Act of 1996. requires that a center shall provide technical assistance to the Secretary of the Interior concerning marine mineral resources; advise the Secretary on pertinent international activities in marine mineral resources development; engage in research, training, and education transfer associated with the characterization and utilization of marine mineral resources; and promote the efficient identification, assessment, exploration and management of marine mineral resources in an environmentally sound manner.

The Continental Shelf Division currently directs its research to: drill sampling systems design re-assessment, modification, and development; geophysical systems development; testing of marine electric profiling systems, and; unmanned underwater vehicle development. The Ocean Basins Division which focuses largely on issues in the Pacific Basin and Rim, is directing its research to: characterization and recovery of sands and aggregates in tropical island settings for beach replenishment, coastal protection and construction, including studies on production needs versus available supply, deposit characterization in relatively deep water, habitat-diversity of the deposit ecosystem and, recovery options for the Kailua/Mamala Bay model sand deposits in Hawaii; the use of manganese tailings in agri-forestry, aggregate, and ceramics and; high-tech utilization of cobalt crusts. The Arctic Seas Division directs its current research to: GIS applications to Alaskan near shore marine mineral resources; development of a marine placer reserve definition model; mining machine design, planning and economics and; development of a knowledge base decision model for marine tailings disposal

Introduction

The Marine Minerals Research Center (MMRC) Program wasestablished in 1996 by Public Law 104325, the Marine Mineral Resources Research Act. The Act directed the Secretary of the Interior to carry out a research program on mineral deposits on or beneath the ocean seabeds and other submarine areas under the jurisdiction of the United States. The Secretary delegated responsibility for the Program to the Minerals Management Service (MMS). Funds were earmarked for the MMRCs for FY 1998 in the Department of the Interior (DOI) appropriations bill. The Act also directed the DOI "to report [to Congress] on how funds for the marine minerals resources center program will be used to support the MMS mission, and thereafter to keep the Committees advised of how these funds are being used."

The Act reauthorized the former Marine Minerals Technology Centers (Centers) at the University of Mississippi and Universityof Hawaii and established a new center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The center at the University of Mississippi is the Continental Shelf Division and focuses its research on the continental shelf regions of the United States; the Oceans Basins Division at the University of Hawaii concentrates on the deep seabed and the near-shore environments of tropical islands; and the Arctic Seas Division at the University of Alaska Fairbanks specializes in the Arctic and other cold-water environments of the United States.

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