JAMSTEC > Developing Innovative Technologies for Exploration of Deep Sea Resources

Developing Innovative Technologies for Exploration of Deep Sea Resources | Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program

Develop an engineering system for exploring and retrieving deep sea resources and produce a model for industrialization through verification and transfer of technologies.

Japan is characterized as a maritime nation. The ocean that surrounds the Japanese islands is the world’s sixth largest sea area including Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A steep seafloor extends from the coast into the deep sea, where potential sites of marine resources considered essential for the sustainable development of society have been identified.

The objective of this program is to develop technologies for the marine resources at the sea bottom at a depth of around 6,000 m that contain high concentrations of rare-earth elements. The deposit sites of the so-called rare-earth elements in the deep sea are expected to be potential sites for exploration, but nobody has succeeded in achieving such an ambitious goal. This program aims to survey the geological features of the sea floor and make a rough estimate of the amount of rare-earth element deposits in the Minami-Torishima area. This program also aims to develop an engineering system for effectively retrieving concentrated rare-earth element deposits from under the sea floor in the deep sea. Technological challenges with respect to future marine resources development also include the simultaneous operation of multiple autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to enable effective surveying covering wide areas in the deep sea.

In this project, we expect to develop the world’s first survey and retrieval system for deep sea resources containing rare-earth elements. The technologies developed will be integrated into a system for various applications and transferred to industry to make the impossible possible.