China's Submersible 'Jiaolong' Finds Polymetallic Nodules in the South China Sea

By | May 06, 2017 02:53 PM EDT
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China's Jiaolong Submersible

China's Jiaolong retrieved a collection of polymetallic nodules in Puyuan Seamount from the South China Sea.(Photo : YouTube)

China's manned submersible Jiaolong has found a collection of polymetallic nodules in Puyuan Seamount in the disputed South China Sea.

"Learning the distribution of polymetallic nodules will help us to choose a site for experimenting with collection, which is one of the main goals of the mission," Wu Changbi, general commander of the second stage of the expedition, said.

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The vessel, which is on the second stage of China's 38th ocean scientific expedition, was underwater for six and a half hours at a maximum depth of 2,029 meters.

Polymetallic nodules have over 10 kinds of elements such as cobalt, copper, iron, nickel, and manganese. Samples of seawater from near the seabed, sediment as well as high-definition photographs and video clips were also retrieved. The crew also brought back a sea lily and a branch of red coral in the sample of polymetallic nodules.

Jiaolong has also retrieved a basalt sample from the Zhenbei Seamount in the South China Sea. The vessel stayed for nine and a half hours underwater at a maximum depth of 2,930 meters beneath the sea surface.

The submersible was able to obtain a five-kilogram sample of basalt, some sediments, seawater near the seabed, and biosamples, as well as high-definition photos and videos.

"The valuable 'rock' will lay the foundation for our study of formation and evolvement of seamounts in the South China Sea during the Cenozoic period," Shi Xuefa, a researcher from the State Oceanic Administration, said. "It is very important for the study of the region's structural evolution."

Jiaolong, named after a mythical dragon, reached the deepest depth of Mariana Trench in June 2012 at 7,062 meters.

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