Rare metallic elements found in clumps on the deep-ocean floor mysteriously remain uncovered despite the shifting sands and sediment many leagues under the sea. Scientists now think they know why, and it could have important implications for mining these metals while preserving the strange fauna at the bottom of the ocean.
The growth of these deep-sea nodules — metallic lumps of manganese, iron, and other metals found in all the major ocean basins — is one of the slowest known geological processes. These ringed concretions, which are potential sources of rare-earth and other critical elements, grow on average just 10 to 20 millimeters every million years. Yet in one of earth science’s most enduring mysteries, they somehow manage to avoid being buried by sediment despite their locations in areas where clay accumulates at least 100 times faster than the nodules grow.
Understanding how these agglomerations of metals remain on the open sea floor could help geoscientists provide advice on accessing them for industrial use. A new study published this month in Geology will help scientists understand this process better.
“It is important that any mining of these resources is done in a way that preserves the fragile deep-sea environments in which they are found,” said lead author Adriana Dutkiewicz, an ARC Future Fellow in the School of Geosciences at The University of Sydney.
Rare-earth and other critical elements are essential for the development of technologies needed for low-carbon economies. They will play an increasingly important role for next-generation solar cells, efficient wind turbines, and rechargeable batteries that will power the renewables revolution.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have mapped a rare earth element deposit of magmatic carbonatite located in the Mountain Pass region of the eastern Mojave Desert. The new report details the geophysical and geological setting of the deposit, including a map of the deposit’s subsurface extent, to help land-use managers evaluate sites for further exploration. The report was recently published in the Geological Society of America’s online journal, Geosphere.
Rare earth elements (REEs) are critical to emerging industrial technologies including strategic defense, science and medical, automotive and transportation, and civilian electronics. However, large economic REE sources are unique and uncommon worldwide. International concerns about increasing demand and global supply vulnerability have prompted many countries, including the U.S., to explore and assess domestic REE resources. Increased efforts to characterize geologic processes related to REE deposits in the U.S. have focused attention on the world-class Mountain Pass, California, deposit located approximately 60 miles southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.
In their study, collaborators K.M. Denton and USGS colleagues use geophysical and geological techniques to image geologic structures related to REE mineral-bearing rocks at depth. Their work suggests REE minerals occur along a fault zone or geologic contact near the eastern edge of the Mescal Range. These findings could prove as a useful guide to future exploration efforts.
In the first part of a new video series, I give an outline of Chapter One of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels, which covers environmental economics. I explain the role of economics in protecting the environment. In a nutshell, it’s this: economic prosperity gives humans the time to care about the environment. Otherwise it’s just a day-to-day battle for survival.
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels assesses the costs and benefits of the use of fossil fuels (principally coal, oil, and natural gas) by reviewing scientific and economic literature on organic chemistry, climate science, public health, economic history, human security, and theoretical studies based on integrated assessment models (IAMs). It is the fifth volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered series and, like the preceding volumes, it focuses on research overlooked or ignored by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Additional background information about Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels is available at these links:
Message from the Coauthors (2-page PDF)
About the Coauthors (1-page PDF)
About NIPCC (1-page PDF)
Impact of Fossil Fuels on Human Health (full-color graphic, PDF)
Complete background package (5-page PDF)
The recent threats by Beijing to cut off American access to critical mineral imports has many Americans wondering why our politicians have allowed the United States to become so overly-dependent on China for these valued resources in the first place.
Today, the United States is 90 percent dependent on China and Russia for many vital “rare earth minerals.”
The main reason for our over-reliance on nations like China for these minerals is not that we are running out of these resources here at home. The U.S. Mining Association estimates that we have at least $5 trillion of recoverable mineral resources.
The U.S. Geological Survey reports that we still have up to 86 percent or more of key mineral resources like copper and zinc remaining in the ground, waiting to be mined.
These resources aren’t on environmentally sensitive lands, like national parks, but on the millions of acres of federal, state and private lands.
The mining isn’t happening because of extremely prohibitive environmental rules and a permitting process that can take 5-10 years to open a new mine. Green groups simply resist almost all new drilling.
What they may not realize is that the de facto mining prohibitions jeopardize the “Green Energy Revolution” that liberals so desperately are seeking.
How is this for rich irony: To make renewable energy at all technologically plausible, will require massive increases in the supply of rare earth and critical minerals.
In a letter to the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on Wednesday (5 June), a team of scientists suggests that the CCC’s proposed target of net-zero emissions by 2050 will need almost all cars and vans on British roads to be electric-battery powered.
The team, which supports that goal, outlined the raw material needs and challenges that will come hand-in-hand with such an ambitious target. Current battery production requires materials like cobalt, copper and nickel.
Professor Richard Herrington of the Natural History Museum said in a statement that “there are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars but keep them charged”.
He and his colleagues calculated that switching all of the UK’s light vehicles to electric will require 207,900 tonnes of cobalt, 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate and over 2,300,000 tonnes of copper.
Apparently, those who currently trade in sand and gravel sometimes do so in an unsustainable manner. “[R]ules, practices and ethics” apparently differ worldwide. Imagine that. Moreover, “irresponsible and illegal extraction” needs to be curbed. In other words: the UN has now set its sights on this industry.
While this report says it merely wants to spark a conversation, that it doesn’t intend to be “prescriptive,” Msuya’s remarks belie that. She advocates “improved governance of global sand resources,” talks about implementing global standards, and looks forward to the creation of brand new “institutions that sustainably and equitably manage extraction.” What’s another level of red tape, after all?
The plots of the Seinfeld TV show often revolved around trivializing important things and blowing trivial things out of proportion. While not a Seinfeld fanatic (I’m more of a Frasierfanatic), I thought the comedy routines were generally brilliant and quite effective.
Peak Oil, abiotic oil and EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) are largely academic concepts. They are the subject of books, academic publications and Internet “debates” The “debates” about Peak Oil, abiotic oil and EROEI are a lot like the Seinfeld show. They magnify the trivial and trivialize things that actually matter. The “debates” often divide into two camps:
It’s the end of the world (Peak Oil, EROEI).
It’s our salvation from the end of the world (Abiotic oil).
While all three of these energy-related topics are, at least to some extent, real, none of them have the slightest relevance to energy production… except for Peak Oil… But the relevance is generally missed by both sides in Internet “debates.”
I had originally intended on combining Peak Oil, abiotic oil and EROEI into one post; but realized that it would have been longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. So, this post will be limited to Peak Oil. Part Deux will deal briefly with abiotic oil and Part Trois will deal more extensively with EROEI.
How big is Ghawar? Has it peaked? Is it “fading faster than anyone guessed”? The answer to the first question is: FRACKING YUGE. The answer to the second question was not easily answerable before Saudi Aramco began the process of becoming a publicly traded company. The answer to the third question is: Of course not.
As Saudi Aramco proceeds towards a 2021 IPO, it has had to embrace transparency. This involved an audit of the proved reserves in their largest fields, comprising about 80% of the company’s value. The audit was conducted by the highly respected DeGolyer and MacNaughton firm (D&M). The audit actually determined that the proved reserves are slightly larger than Aramco’s internal estimate.
I ran across a very lucid and informative article on Real Clear Energy today. The author is Robert Dillon, “a senior adviser on energy security at the American Council for Capital Formation and the former communications director of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.” The article includes numerous links to supporting information, particularly the National Petroleum Council’s (NPC) 2015 report on U.S. Arctic oil & gas resource potential.
Du gaz et du pétrole de schiste sont découverts à profusion dans le monde, notamment aux États-Unis. Qui en parle dans nos grands media ? Serait-ce politiquement incorrect de l’évoquer ?
LE SUCCÈS DU PARI DU GAZ ET DU PÉTROLE DE SCHISTE
Le Texas aux États-Unis regorge de pétrole et de gaz de schiste au point que les gazoducs existants sont saturés ! Le gaz doit même être « torché » ou « éventé ».
En attendant la mise en service de nouvelles capacités de transport, la production doit être réduite faute de pouvoir exporter les quantités extraites. La production de pétrole de schiste doit aussi être réduite en parallèle car il est extrait avec le gaz (et vice-versa).
Des projets sont en développement pour évacuer le gaz vers le Golfe du Mexique pour le liquéfier (GPL) et pouvoir ainsi l’exporter par bateau méthanier.
Après avoir stagné autour de 6 millions de barils par jour (Mb/j) en moyenne de 1933 à 2013, la production a grimpé à 9,4 Mb/j en 2017, puis à 10,4 Mb/j en 2018, et elle passera à 11,5 Mb/j 2019.
La surabondance de gaz de schiste associé à l’extraction du pétrole de schiste a fait chuter les prix au terminal gazier à l’ouest du Texas jusqu’à 1 dollar par million d’unité thermique britannique (dollar/MM-Btu), alors qu’il vaut 13 à 14 dollars/MM-Btu sur le marché européen.
The Northern Territory holds enough natural gas to supply Australia for 200 years-plus and is comparable to the shale resources that have revolutionised the US energy sector, Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan says.
Such abundant gas should enable Australia to reduce its current high energy prices, which were the fault of southern states preventing development, Senator Canavan told an NT Resources Week conference in Darwin.
India’s cabinet approved on Wednesday a policy to allow companies to explore and exploit unconventional oil and gas resources such as shale oil and gas and coalbed methane under the existing production sharing contracts, as it aims to reduce its dependency on energy imports.
There may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamond hidden in the Earth’s interior, according to a new study from MIT and other universities. But the new results are unlikely to set off a diamond rush. The scientists estimate the precious minerals are buried more than 100 miles below the surface, far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached.
The ultradeep cache may be scattered within cratonic roots — the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates. Shaped like inverted mountains, cratons can stretch as deep as 200 miles through the Earth’s crust and into its mantle; geologists refer to their deepest sections as “roots.”
In the new study, scientists estimate that cratonic roots may contain 1 to 2 percent diamond. Considering the total volume of cratonic roots in the Earth, the team figures that about a quadrillion (1016) tons of diamond are scattered within these ancient rocks, 90 to 150 miles below the surface.
by A. Préat, 16 juillet 2018 in ScienceClimatEnergie
L ’hydrogène, un gaz peu abondant…
L’ hydrogène n’est présent qu’à concurrence de 1 ppm ( = une ‘partie par million’, soit 0,0001%) dans l’atmosphère : autant dire que c’est presque rien. D’où vient-il ? Peut-on en produire de grandes quantités à partir de ressources naturelles (géologie) ou artificielles (chimie) ? Autant de questions que de plus en plus d’industriels, de scientifiques, de politiques et de citoyens (?) se posent pour faire face à ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler la transition énergétique tant à l’ordre du jour, à raison ou à tort, là n’est pas l’objet de cet article. Comme nous le verrons par la suite, l’exploitation directe de l’hydrogène naturel n’est pas encore rentable et il faudra sans doute le produire à partir d’une autre source d’énergie, car il n’est pas lui-même une source d’énergie, mais au contraire un simple vecteur d’énergie.A l’heure actuelle il n’est donc pas exploité à une échelle suffisante en raison des contraintes géologiques et économiques, et il faut le synthétiser . C’est ce que réalise aujourd’hui l’industrie principalement en vue de la fabrication de l’ammoniac pour les engrais ou des plastiques.
Very few people realize that the entire concerns about peak oil were based on misinformation or junk science.
A decade ago, the media was filled with stories about peak oil, numerous books were published on the subject (such as Half Gone and $20 a Gallon!), and even the Simpsons mentioned it in an episode about doomsday preppers. Now, the topic is largely forgotten and the flavor of the month is peak oil demand. Anyone concerned about the quality of research that works its way into the public debate should be curious about how so many were so wrong for so long. (Buy my book for the full story.)
First and foremost, realize that in the 1970s, numerous analysts and institutions made similar arguments, arguing that geological scarcity was responsible for higher prices not the two disruptions of production in 1973 and 1979. Indeed, in the months before oil prices collapsed in 1986, the consensus was that prices were too low and had to rise to make upstream investment profitable, despite the fact that OPEC production was collapsing (down from 30 mb/d in 1980 to 15 in 1985). You would think that this would make people more skeptical about claims that geological scarcity was responsible when the shutdown of Venezuelan production and the second Gulf War cut off Iraqi supplies sent prices higher starting in 2003.
Ce week-end, le monde de l’énergie délaissera le Mondial de football pour s’intéresser à la rencontre ministérielle de l’OPEP à Vienne. Des grandes manœuvres sont en cours, non pas tellement pour décider des « allocations de production » – pléonasme employé par l’OPEP pour ne pas parler de « quotas de production », ce qui aurait une connotation négative – mais des positionnements géopolitiques dans le nouveau monde en construction.
Flash-back. Au début des années 1970, dans la droite ligne du malthusianisme, le Club de Rome propage une nouvelle vague de peur en s’appuyant sur des craintes fournies par des ordinateurs : tout le monde a cru que la fin du pétrole annoncée pour 2000 était une vérité scientifique. À l’époque, la modélisation était innovante et donc attractive…
A couple of days ago, we noted that this year’s edition of BP’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy report on global energy use is out, and it contains one of the most telling charts about the failure of the climate crusade’s “war on coal” ever presented.
Most of the lamestream media coverage has focused on this particular chart from the BP report, which shows coal having a small uptick in 2017 after several years of decline. Doesn’t look like much, does it? Just a blip. Nothing for the enviro-faithful to worry about, the net trend is still down, right?
by S. Graham, May 9, 2018 in ClimateChangeDispatch
World fund managers predict a fall in the value of oil companies. According to a survey published last month in the United Kingdom, climate change risks will force a lower valuation of oil company stock prices within the next five years.
But despite many predictions of demise over the last 50 years, global consumption of hydrocarbon energy continues to grow
We’ve heard this many times before. In his address to the nation on April 18, 1977, President Jimmy Carter stated, “…we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the world by the end of the next decade.”
Energy produced offshore is a major component of global oil and natural gas supply and could provide an increasingly important source of renewable electricity. Resources are enormous, but offshore projects have to prove their worth in a changing market and policy context, amid a variety of pressures on the world’s oceans.
More than a quarter of today’s oil and gas supply is produced offshore, mostly in the Middle East, the North Sea, Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caspian Sea. While offshore oil production has been relatively stable since 2000, natural gas output from offshore fields has risen by more than 50% over the same period. Offshore electricity generation, mainly from wind, has increased rapidly in recent years, notably in the relatively shallow coastal waters of Europe’s North Sea.
The Republic of the Congo has suffered dearly during the oil collapse; and Congolese President Denis Nguesso has pledged that the country would no longer be sitting on the side lines, suffering the effects of global decision-making in the oil industry without a voice. In an official communiqué announcing the bid for OPEC membership, he stated that he wished to “place our country in the rank of the world’s leaders.”
At nearly 2 billion barrels of crude oil of proven reserves in a vastly underexplored territory, Congo represents a sleeping giant amidst African oil producers. An improved business climate has brought profound benefits to the country’s oil industry. New developments by French oil company Total in Congolese territory are set to expand the country’s oil output from 280,000 barrels per day to 350,000 in 2018.