BERGEN, Norway (Reuters) – From the safety of their research vessel, scientists are exploring one of Earth’s last frontiers – the sea floor – to discover more about valuable minerals vital in the manufacture of smartphones.
The scientists, from the University of Bergen in Norway, are sending robots 2,500 meters (8,000 feet) down into the waters between Norway and Greenland, to try to understand the environments potentially rich with rare earth minerals.
“The ocean sea floor on Earth is, for the most part, unknown,” scientist Thibaut Barreyre told Reuters.
“It’s totally fair to say that we know much more about the surface of the moon and Mars – mapped by satellites and different devices – than we know about our own planet.”
The international team is using technology including autonomous robots and human-piloted submarines to explore the sea’s dark depths where zinc, gold and copper are also found.