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Science and Ideas Group: Mining, conservation & bioprospecting interests square off on the deep sea

Thursday, July 14, 2022, 3:00 PM until 4:30 PM
via Zoom - details below:
Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
Joseph D Evinger
Interest Group
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RSVP:  Joseph Evinger (

When: Every 2nd Thursday of the month, 3:00-4:30 pm

Where: Zoom

Meeting ID: 848 0146 1083
Passcode: science

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        +1 669 900 9128
Meeting ID: 848 0146 1083 

Open to: All

Science and Ideas Group Presents

The Battle For The Abyss:
Mining, Conservation, and Bioprospecting Interests
Square Off on the Deep Sea

Dr. Kim Juniper
The abyss has seen relatively little disturbance from human activities, but that situation is poised to change. 

Environmental disturbance from seabed mining operations will be significant, with some mining operations at the scale of 10,000 square kilometres or more. This presentation will shine some light on the current debate between deep-sea mining interests and the interests of biodiversity conservation and genetic resource biodiscovery. We will also touch on some of the technologies that are being used for deep-sea exploration.

Nearly 60% of the surface of our planet is covered by more than 2000 metres of water. The deep seabed is the largest and least explored ecological region on Earth. With no light for photosynthesis, this cold and high-pressure environment is a food desert, with most organisms feeding on organic debris that sinks from the surface ocean. Yet, there are an estimated 500,000 or more species in the deep sea, many of which occur nowhere else.

Economic growth is driving increasing demand for base metals and rare earth elements, and known mineral resources on land will soon be insufficient. Seabed mining is now technologically feasible and regulatory agencies such as the International Seabed Authority are currently finalizing regulations for mineral extraction.
The romantic view of deep-sea mining that emerged in the mid-20th century must now contend with the realization that each of these deposits host unique faunal and microbial communities that would be severely impacted by mining operations.

Together, we will explore each of these environments and their inhabitants through imagery collected by research submersibles and learn more about their biodiversity, their contribution to ocean ecosystem function, and their potential for biotechnological and pharmaceutical applications. We will also introduce some of the players in this battle for the abyss, from regulatory agencies to mining companies, deep-sea biologists and Big Pharma.

Join us for this important presentation that is sure to expand our understanding of the human contributions to climate change.

Dr. Kim Juniper is a Professor of Biology at the University of Victoria, Canada. The primary focus of his research is the biogeochemistry and ecology of submarine hydrothermal systems. Dr. Juniper's research on deep-sea vents encompasses the fields of microbial ecology, biomineralization and benthic ecology. Other research areas include the microbial ecology of deep-sea sediments and the seasonal dynamics of arctic sea-ice microbial communities.