MiningImpact | JPI OCEANS


Project Facts
Project period: January 2015 - December 2017
Funding: € 13,200,000
Strategic area:
  • Exploring the Deep-Sea
More Information
Project coordinator:

Dr. Matthias Haeckel
GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Phone: +49-431-600-2123
Email: mhaeckel(at)

Secretariat contact:

Willem De Moor

Tel. +32 (0) 2626 1663


Project website: click here to visit

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The JPI Oceans project ‘MiningImpact’ aimed at assessing the long-term impacts of polymetallic nodule mining on the deep-sea environment. Core of the project were three marine research campaigns conducted in 2015 on the RV Sonne visiting several license areas and two Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEIs) in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) as well as the DISCOL benthic impact experiment in the Peru Basin.  


Jointly analyse the long-term ecological consequences of deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining to provide the knowledge base and inform the development of the international regulation regime of deep sea mining activities by: 
  • Predicting the ecological, biogeochemical and hydrodynamic consequences of a mining impact. 
  • Testing a range of modern rapid assessment methods and monitoring techniques for defining the ecosystem status. 
  • Communicating the results to stakeholders and policymakers. 
  • Conducting a comparative baseline study across different deep-sea environments (e.g. trophic states and seamounts)


The main research questions addressed by ‘MiningImpact’ were:
  • How did the deep-sea ecosystem (species biodiversity, community structure, biogeochemical functioning) in various disturbed areas in the CCZ and DISCOL evolve several decades after the impact? 
  • Can APEIs and seamounts fulfill their anticipated role as conservation areas for nodule-associated species? 
  • How large is the expected spatial and temporal footprint of deep-sea mining operations? 
  • What is the long-range connectivity of species in the CCZ and how is it affected by mining?


The scientific findings of the project were:
  • Nodule ecosystems support a highly diverse fauna of sessile and mobile species.
  • Faunal communities & environmental parameters show a high variability even on a very local spatial scale.
  • Benthic fauna communities differ significantly between seamounts and nodule habitats.
  • Loss of seafloor integrity by nodule and sediment removal generally reduces population densities and ecosystem functions. Biogeochemical remineralization processes and the productivity of the benthic community are both impacted by nodule removal.
  • Disturbance impacts on nodule ecosystems last for many decades, affect numerous ecosystem compartments and functions


More details can be found on the final results overview of the project. 

Publications joint projects

Boetius, A. and Haeckel, M. Mind the seafloor, Science; DOI 10.1126/science.aap7301 (2018)

Brown, A., et al. A comparative experimental approach to ecotoxicology in shallow-water and deep-sea holothurians suggests similar behavioural responses, Aquatic Toxicology; DOI 10.1016/j.aquatox.2017.06.028 (2017)

Dumke, I., et al. First hyperspectral imaging survey of the deep seafloor: high-resolution mapping of manganese nodules. Remote Sensing of Environment; DOI 10.1016/j.rse.2018.02.024 (2018).

Peukert, A., et al. Understanding Mn-nodule distribution and evaluation of related deep-sea mining impacts using AUV-based hydroacoustic and optical data, Biogeosciences (BG); DOI 10.5194/bg-15-2525-2018. (2018)

Purser, A., Marcon, Y., Hoving, H. J. T., Vecchione, M., Piatkowski, U., Eason, D., Bluhm, H. and Boetius, A. (2016) Association of deep-sea incirrate octopods with manganese crusts and nodule fields in the Pacific Ocean Current Biology, 26 (24). R1268-R1269. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.052 

Schoening, T., et al. Compact-Morphology-based poly-metallic Nodule Delineation, Scientific Reports; DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-13335-x (2017)

Schoening, T., et al. Fully automated image segmentation for benthic resource assessment of poly-metallic nodules, Methods in Oceanography; DOI 10.1016/j.mio.2016.04.002 (2016)

Schoening, T., et al. RecoMIA - Recommendations for Marine Image Annotation: Lessons Learned and Future Directions, Frontiers in Marine Science; DOI 10.3389/fmars.2016.00059 (2016)

Stratmann, T., et al. Has Phytodetritus Processing by an Abyssal Soft-Sediment Community Recovered 26 Years after an Experimental Disturbance?, Frontiers in Marine Science; DOI 10.3389/fmars.2018.00059 (2018)

Vanreusel, A., Hilario, A., Ribeiro, P. A., Menot, L. and Arbizu, P. M. (2016) Threatened by mining, polymetallic nodules are required to preserve abyssal epifauna Scientific Reports, 6 (26808). DOI 10.1038/srep26808 


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