India’s deep ocean mission

Deep ocean

• Below 200 meters – little or no light. • Depth at which light begins to dwindle, typically around 200 meters (656 feet).

• Extreme conditions:
 Temperature reduces to 4°Celsius – constantly stays near freezing.
 Pressure – ranges from 40 to over 110 times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.

• Creatures exist microorganisms in hydrothermal vents, deep sea corals, fish, and other bizarre creatures.
• Harsh conditions – difficult to explore. • 95% of the ocean is unexplored and unutilised. • Countries exploring the deep ocean – China,France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.

• Deep ocean mission of India – in line with, GoI’s Vision of New India by 2030.
 Blue Economy – one of core dimensions of growth.

Deep Ocean Mission

• Multi-ministerial multi-disciplinary programme.

• Objective – explore deep ocean for resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.

• Phase-wise implementation for 5 years.
 First phase – 2021-2024.

• Estimated cost – Rs. 4077 crores.

• Mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of GoI.

• Nodal implementing Ministry – Ministry of Earth Sciences.
• Six major components:

  1. Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, and Manned Submersible.
     Development of manned submersible – will carry 3 people to a depth of 6000 m in the ocean + scientific sensors and tools.
     Development of Integrated Mining System for mining Polymetallic Nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean.
     Future commercial exploitation of minerals in
    deep ocean.
     Blue Economy priority area – ‘exploring and
    harnessing of deep sea minerals and energy’.

Polymetallic nodules (PMN)

• Manganese or ferromanganese nodules.

• Potato-shaped, largely porous nodules.

• Found in deep sea – in abundance carpeting the sea
floor of world oceans.

• Metals – manganese, iron, nickel, copper, cobalt,lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.
 Nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper – of economic and strategic importance.
• 15 year contract of India with International Seabed Authority (ISA) in 2002 – for exploration of PMN in CIOB.
 Extended 5 more years – 2017-22.
 Presently allocated an area of 75,000 – located 2000 km away from southern tip.
 Estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential – 380 million tonnes.
 Nickel – 4.7 million tonnes
 Copper – 4.29 million tonnes
 Cobalt – 0.55 million tonnes
 Manganese – 92.59 million tonnes

2.Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory
 Developing observations & models to understand &
provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales.
 Blue Economy priority area – coastal tourism.

3.Technological innovations for exploration and
conservation of deep-sea biodiversity
 Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes.
 Studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea
 Blue Economy priority area – Marine Fisheries and allied services.

4. Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration
 Explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides
mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
 Hydrothermal Sulphides or seafloor massive sulphides – only metal-bearing deposits of (current) commercial significance that form
at active plate boundaries – high concentrations of copper, zinc, lead,arsenic, cobalt, silver, gold and other metals.
 Blue Economy priority area – deep sea exploration of ocean resources.

5.Energy and freshwater from the Ocean
 Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant.
 Blue Economy priority area – off-shore energy development.

6.Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology
 Development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering.
 Research into industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.
 Blue Economy priority area – Marine Biology, Blue trade and Blue manufacturing.
• Benefits:
 Attempts to indigenise technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and
private industries.
 Design, development and fabrication of specialised equipment, ships and setting
up of required infrastructure – will spur the growth of the Indian industry, especially the MSME and Start-ups.
 Generating employment
 Research vessel for deep ocean exploration to be built in Indian shipyard.
 Capacity development in Marine Biology.