Sequoia Scientific

University of Hawaii Accepts Delivery of LISST-Deep

March 1, 2021

Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH) in the Oceanography department have taken the delivery of the LISST-Deep Particle size analyzer. Associate Professor Angelicque White and Professor Jeff Drazen will deploy the LISST-Deep on a research cruise in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. The 4,000 meter rated LISST-Deep is designed to provide in situ particle size and concentration measurements. They will use this instrument to collect critical data regarding particle composition an sediment suspension characteristics related to future deep-sea mining operations, and the potential impacts on the mesopelagic and bathypelagic communities.

Associate Professor Angelicque White

Professor Jeffrey C. Drazen.




The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) is an abyssal plain in the Pacific ocean between Hawaii and Mexico spanning 4.5 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles) (PEW). It is as wide as the continental United States and punctuated by seamounts (PEW). Lying atop the muddy bottom or embedded just beneath it are trillions of potato-size polymetallic nodules (PEW). Polymetallic nodules are a potential mineral resource for copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese, and rare earth elements—metals that are becoming important for modern life, since they are used in making electronics like rechargeable batteries and touch screens, among other things (NOAA). As such, the Clarion-Clipperton Zone has drawn the interest of the deep sea mining industry.

Deep-sea mining would involve scraping off the top layer of the ocean floor, separating the polymetallic nodules from the mud, pumping them to a surface ship through a tube, and returning the water and fine particles through another tube (PEW). Many marine scientists are concerned about the potential impacts of disturbing the seabed in this manner: These nodules take millions of years to form, and little is known how disturbing sediment in this way will impact the seal life that lives in this area (PEW).


Locations of Clarion-Clipperton Zone, Courtesy of USGS