NPD will start collecting extensive data with an expedition in the deeper areas of the continental shelf in western parts of the Norwegian Sea.
The NPD has engaged Swire Seabed AS, who partners with Ocean Floor Geophysics, to conduct the mapping of potential sulphide minerals on the seabed over the Mohns Ridge. This is a spreading ridge in the Atlantic Ocean that separates two oceanic plates, where possible valuable minerals have been formed through hot volcanic sources.
The expedition will focus on non-active extinct systems that are now left as mineral-rich piles of gravel on the seabed.
The mapping will be carried out using an autonomous underwater vehicle, a Kongsberg Hugin AUV, which maps the seabed using:
- Bottom-penetrating echo sounder;
- Multibeam bathymetry;
- Synthetic aperture sonar data;
- Spontaneous potential field data.
After the data is processed on board, mineral samples will be gathered from the seabed where the data indicates the presence of deposits.
Sampling will be performed using an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle). This will be lowered down to the seabed, which could be as deep as 3000 metres, and will pick up test material of the minerals.
The expedition will be conducted throughout August and into September.