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Information on Symposia per Science Theme

Theme No.

Theme Title

Number of Symposia proposed

Symposia Title

Symposia Conveners

Biographical sketch of the Conveners




Exploration and Mining of Marine Mineral Resources

Dr. S. Rajan


Dr. Rasik Ravindra


Dr. John Kurien


Prof. Tetsuro Urabe



Polymetallic Nodules: Geological Characteristics and Resource Potential

Abhishek Saha (India)

Kali Sanjay


Thomas Kuhn (Germany)

Dr. Saha is a geologist having more than 10 years of experience handling petrological and geochemical data of diverse tectonic settings; currently heads the exploratory program for PMN (Survey & Exploration) in India at CSIR-NIO

Dr. Sanjay is a metallurgical engineer having about 25 years of experience on processing of wide variety of ores. At present he heads the exploratory programme for PMN (Metallurgy) in India at IMMT.

Dr. Khun is a marine geologist having more than 20 years experience on working in different marine resources including manganese nodules; hydrothermal deposits and also in mantle geochemistry.

Polymetallic nodules, deep-sea resources, geology, resource potential

Polymetallic nodules are rounded accretions of manganese and iron hydroxides that cover vast areas of the seafloor, but are most abundant on abyssal plains at water depths of 4000-6500 metres. The composition of nodules varies, but in addition to manganese and iron, they can contain nickel, copper and cobalt in commercially attractive concentrations as well as traces of other valuable metals such as molybdenum, zirconium and REEs. The essential conditions to form the nodules are (i) low sedimentation rate (ii) availability of nucleus around which accretion of oxides takes place (iii) oxidising environment and (iv) bottom currents of low velocity. The nodules are formed by precipitation from two sources such as (i) precipitation of colloidal particles directly from cold ambient seawater and accretion around a nucleus on soft sediment substrate forming hydrogenetic nodules and (ii) precipitation of metal ions either within the soft sediment or at the sediment-water interace from sub-oxic sediment pore waters where seawater is modified by chemical reactions within the sediment. The nodules of greatest commercial interest occur in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (CCZ) and in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB). The concept of polymetallic nodules as a serious commercial prospect emerged in the 1960's and 70's, leading to a rush to develop the technology to extract them. Pursuant to the establishment of the International Seabed Authority in 1994 under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to organize and regulate mining and related activities in the international seabed beyond national jurisdiction, the Authority has entered into 15-year contracts for exploration of nodules in specific parts of the deep oceanin the CCZ and CIOB. Under the Contract, in addition to carrying out survey and exploratory activities within the contract area, the contracting agencies are also required to undertake Environmental Impact Assessment and to develop suitable exploratory, mining and processing technologies.

Abstracts are invited in this symposia on geological and geochemical characteristics of the nodules in different areas, the effect of geological factors such as the depositional environment, sediment characteristics, hydrography etc, on nodule abundance, its composition and processing options.

Modern Seafloor Hydrothermal Systems and Massive Seafloor Sulphides

Kamesh Raju


John Kurian


Jérôme Dyment (France)

Dr. Kamesh Raju is a reputed marine geophysicist who has contributed significantly to India’s deep seabed mineral exploration program as well to the studies of arc-backarc systems

Dr. John Kurian is a leading marine geophysicist with a proven track record in the field of seabed hydrothermal mineral exploration and mapping.

Dr. Jerome Dyment is a renowned marine geophysicist, head of the Marine Geoscience Team at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Chair of the International InterRidge Program and Chair of one of the geology Science Theme of teh International Indian Ocean Expedition

Hydrothermal systems, spreading centres, back-arc basins, seafloor sulphides, geochemistry, sulphide deposits

Modern seafloor hydrothermal systems, with their black/ white smokers issuing hot metal rich vent fluids from mafic or felsic volcanic rocks can be considered as modern analogs for the formation of volcanic-hosted massive sulphide (VMS) deposits. The discovery of such systems in the deep oceanic realm along the mid-ocean ridges has kindled a lot of interest primarily on account of the high concentration of base metals (Cu and Zn) and many noble metals (Au, Ag, Pd, Pt) in them. Of the more than 400 hydrothermal sites reported along the length of the mid-ocean ridges and arc-backarc systems, about 140 are considered to have economic potential with respect to polymetallic sulphide minerals. Apart from their economic potential, these deep-ocean mineral deposits can be considered as windows into Earth's processes, revealing clues to the evolution of seawater and ancient ore-forming processes.

Pursuant to the establishment of the International Seabed Authority in 1994 under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Authority has entered into six contracts with different entities for the exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the South West Indian Ridge, Central Indian Ridge and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Against this background, this Symposium would solicit abstracts on both modern active hydrothermal systems and relict seabed hydrothermal deposits, focused on the geology, geochemical characteristics including water-column chemistry, host-rock composition, geological models for seafloor hydrothermal systems, exploration strategies for potential sites of hydrothermal multi-metal sulphide mineralization and determination of the resource potential in different environments.

Cobalt-rich Ferromanganese Crusts: Formation and Occurrence

Sridhar D. Iyer


V. K. Banakar


James R. Hein


Dr. Iyer’s research interests are petrology, volcanism, coastal geomorphology, mineral resources (deep sea and coastal placers)

Dr. Banakar’s research interests are deep-sea Ferromanganese deposits with special reference to genesis and paleoceanography of seamount cobalt-rich Fe-Mn crusts; and Palaeoclimatology

Dr. James Hein, a Senior Scientist with the USGS, in an internationally-renowned authority on issues concerning mineral resources that occur within the EEZ and areas beyond national jurisdictions.

Seamount Ferromanganese crusts; Genesis and Palaeoceanography; Exploration; Economic potential; Metallurgy

Cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts are the authigenic (hydrogenous) colloidal precipitates accreted on exposed hard substrates over the seamounts of the world oceans. Older seamounts normally host thick crusts up to several tens of cm. As these crusts grow at extremely slow rates (few mm/my) they can act as repositories of long-term paleoceanogrphic records. The seamount crusts accreted close to the Oxygen Minimum Zones are expected to be enriched with very high concentration of cobalt up to even 2 % and are termed as Cobalt-Crusts having very high economic value. These crusts often are enriched with Platinum Group Elements, Tellurium and Gold, which add-up to the value of the crust deposits.

Pursuant to the establishment of the International Seabed Authority in 1994 under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Authority has entered into four contracts with different entities for the exploration of cobalt-rich crusts in the Western Pacific Ocean. The recent preliminary exploration in the Equatorial Indian Ocean has also indicated occurrence of Cobalt-rich crusts in the Afanasiy-Nikitin Seamount cluster.

With this background, it is quite feasible that the seamount cobalt-crusts in addition to their academic interest have economic potential of high value and may act as raw material for several high-tech metals. This symposium would invite abstracts related to formation of the seamount crusts; their scientific and economic importance; advancement in their exploration, mining, and metallurgical challenges and environmental impact on seamount cobalt-crust mining.

Exploration for Deep-sea Mineral Resources: The Scientific and Technological Challenges

G. A. Ramadass


John Kurian


Georgy Cherkashev (Russia)

Dr. Ramadass has been involved in developing technologies for the exploration and harvesting of ocean resources for the last 24 years and has a number of publications and patents to his credit.

Dr. John Kurian is a leading marine geophysicist in the country with a proven track record in the field of seabed hydrothermal mineral exploration and mapping.

Prof. Cherkashev is an internationally-renowned geoscientist in the field of prospecting and exploration for polymetallic nodules and sulphides in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Polymetallic nodules, massive sulphides, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, technology developments

The exploration for deep-sea minerals and mineral deposits such as polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts in the seabed area presents several challenges in terms of the water depths at which they occur, their sporadic and restricted nature of occurrence, and the availability of suitable technologies needed for locating these resources. While the nodules occur on the sea-bottom sediments, generally half-buried and at water depths exceeding 4000 m, massive sulphides form discrete compact mounds along the plate boundaries over very restricted aerial extent, and the thin ferromanganese crusts are adhered to large areas of hard rock substrate. Such wide variations in the nature of the occurrence make their retrieval difficult. Furthermore, as regards the polymetallic sulphides and the crusts, the present technologies also impose limitations on drilling to adequately determine grade and tonnage. This Symposium proposes to invite papers focused on: the scientific and technological challenges in prospecting for these deep-sea mineral resources, and the developments in technology for exploring these resources.

Mining of Deep-sea Minerals: Potential Impacts on the Marine Environment, Remedial Measures and Mitigation Strategies

Rahul Sharma


Baban Ingole


Yoshihisa Shirayama (Japan)

Teresa Radziejewska (Poland)

Dr. Rahul Sharma is the editor of the book on ‘Deep-sea mining’ published by Springer in 2017. He has led the project on EIA of deep-sea mining in Indian Ocean. His fields of interest are seafloor environment associated with deep-sea minerals and has authored several papers on potential impacts of deep-sea mining.

Dr. Baban Ingole has been associated with the EIA project on deep-sea mining as a marine biologist and is n expert in marine biodiversity and ecology. He has authored several papers on deep-sea faunal assemblages and potential impact of deep-sea fauna.

Dr. Yoshihisa Shirayama has served as a professor of Seto Marine Biological Laboratory before joining the current position at JAMSTEC. His fields of interest have been marine biodiversity, taxonomy and ecology of deep-sea meiobenthos and the impact of ocean acidification upon it.

Dr. Teresa Radziejewska, is Professor of Marine biology at the Natural Sciences Education and Research Centre, University of Szczecin, Poland and has extensively worked on deep-sea fauna and the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining. She is a member of international research groups with several publications.

Deep-sea mining, potential impacts, marine environment, mitigation

Mining of deep-sea minerals, many of which occur in the international waters, has attracted significant attention due to discovery of large volumes on the seafloor and growth in global demands for strategic metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt and rare earths. This has led to several entities registering claims for obtaining exclusive rights over large tracts of the seafloor under UN Law of the Sea and also developing technologies for their exploitation. On the other hand, environmental groups have been flagging concerns over the possible environmental impacts on the hitherto untouched marine ecosystems that house unique biodiversity. This symposium will address environmental issues in relation to deep-sea mining; look at the potential impacts on marine ecosystem as well as the mechanisms being put in place for mitigation and conservation.

Deep sea Mining Within and Beyond National Jurisdictions: the Technological Developments and Regulatory Frameworks

M. A. Atmanand atma@niot.res, in (India)

Tetsuro Urabe (Japan)

S. Rajan


Dr. Atmanand, an Ocean Engineer by profession has done pioneering work in the area of deep sea technologies in India.

Prof. Urabe is an internationally-recognised figure in the field of seafloor hydrothermal activities both on the mid-ocean ridge and the arc-backarc systems.

Deep sea mining, Technological developments, National Legislation, UNCLOS

As the quest for deep-sea mineral resources is gaining momentum, development of suitable mining technologies catering to their recovery from diverse in situ environmental conditions has become an important aspect of study. Furthermore, because many of these resources occur both in national and international waters, efforts are also on to develop regulations governing their exploitation in a sustainable manner at national and international levels.

This Symposium will thus have a two-fold focus: one, on the prospects and challenges of deep-sea mining of non-living resources; and two, on the legal framework governing deep-sea mineral extraction and exploitation in two different, yet inter-linked, jurisdictional contexts (national and international) in the developing of mining technologies. Papers are proposed to be invited on deep seabed mining technologies and challenges in their development and deployment, standardization of mining methods, mining design, national laws governing deep sea mineral extraction and exploitation, legal framework governing maritime areas of coastal states where mining activities are already on, and the laws governing seabed mining in the “Area” beyond national jurisdictions.

Extended Continental Shelves under UNCLOS: Sovereign Rights for Exploiting Non-living Resources Beyond 200 Nautical miles.

Bimal N. Patel


Rasik Ravindra (India)

S. Rajan


Prof. Bimal Patel is a renowned scholar and academician of international law and diplomacy and currently the Director of Gujarat National Law University as well as a member of the 21st Law Commission of India.

Dr. Rasik Ravindra, a renowned polar scientist, former Director of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Goa and former member of the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Dr. Rajan, a marine geologist, former Director of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Goa, India, and former member of the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Non-living resources, extended continental shelf, UNCLOS, article 76

The concept of legal continental shelf as embodied in article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its delineation beyond 200 nautical miles feasible in respect of some coastal States is paving the way for additional areas where States can exercise rights of sovereignty over the seabed, sub-seabed and their natural resources. As on date, 70 Coastal States have lodged 80 Submissions with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for extended continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles (including joint Submissions by one or more countries). These submissions collectively encompass an area of about 30 million km2 of extended shelf (including potential overlapping claims). Considering that about 150 million km2 of seabed area (which corresponds to the global EEZ area) is already under the national jurisdiction of the world’s coastal States, the addition of a possible 30 million km2 would mean that roughly about 50% of the global ocean seabed with its natural resources could come under national jurisdiction. Against this background, this Symposium invites abstracts on the seabed and sub-seabed resources within the “legal” continental shelf of coastal States, the obligations and the liabilities deriving within the framework of UNCLOS for a sustained development of these resources in terms of know-how, preservation, exploration and exploitation, and the challenges in the management and sharing of natural resources in areas of overlapping claims by States with adjacent or opposite coasts.

Mineral Resources of the Continental Margins, Excluding Hydrocarbons

V. Purnachandra Rao (India)

A. Anil Kumar


Craig R. Glenn


Dr. Rao has been working on continental shelf and slope sediments for the past 38 years. He has contributed significantly towards the formation of authigenic/diagenetic minerals, such as phosphorites, dolomites and verdine-glaucony-phosphate facies and distribution of fine-grained detrital minerals on continental margins.

Dr. Anil Kumar is a marine geoscientist who has worked extensively on the formation of lime muds on the continental margins as well as on the rock-magnetic properties of marine sediments.

Prof. Craig Glenn is an internationally-renowned scientist who has worked extensively on modern and ancient paleoproductivity and marine authigenic mineral formation (phosphorites, glauconites, organic-rich shales etc.).

Heavy minerals, fine-grained detrital minerals,phosphorites, dolomites, verdine-glaucony facies, authigenic minerals from oxygen minimum zone

Near-shore marine mineral resources, especially from the continental margins are an important topic of research. Several investigators have attempted to identify the resource potential of near-shore heavy mineral deposits, control of hydrodynamic conditions on the distribution of detrital minerals, factors favouring the carbonate sediments and lime muds during the late Quaternary, coastal processes such as upwelling on the formation of phosphorites, and verdine-glaucony facies and minerals from the oxygen minimum zone. This symposium will discuss findings on near-shore mineral resources.