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Focal Point on Deep-sea Resources

Rare-earth elements are key to number of growing technologies, including hybrid cars and wind turbines. Recent expeditions detailed large deposits of key resources in the deep seas of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. A Japanese government initiative is now developing brand new surveying, extraction and environmental monitoring technologies for never-before-mined ocean depths. However, Japanese researchers also underline the importance of developing the right environmental impact assessment tools and regulations.

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Vital to many expanding technologies, rare-earth deposits were identified in Japan’s deep-sea clays in 2013. Scientists have been contemplating the technical and environmental challenge this presents.

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A combination of refined sub-bottom acoustic sensing technology and core sampling is revealing the seafloor's history and the likely location of rare-earth elements.

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Japanese researchers are contributing to affordable technology and informing international guidelines on how to monitor the impact of exploration in the ocean’s depths.

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