Many occurrences of mineral resources in ocean water, on the ocean floor and in its
deeper parts have long been well-known. This is readily understandable, because numerous
ancient mineral products which are exploited on land were originally formed in
marine milieus as far back as the Precambrian , e.g., marine sedimentary iron ores, rock
salt, potassium, phosphate and manganese , as well as petroleum and natural gas.
This book deals with ores in sediments, and in sedimentary and volcanic rocks. According
to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (Fowler and Fowler , 1964), ore is defined as
"solid native mineral aggregate from which valuable constituents not necessarily metal
may be usefully extracted". Therefore , in tllis chapter only mineral resources of inorganic
origin in ocean water and on the ocean floor are discussed and not those of organic
derivation, although the existence of petroleum, natural gas and, to some extent, of coal
in the subsurface of the ocean shelves is of greater economic importance. The amount of
oil and gas produced in 1969 represented more than 90% by value of all mineral resources
obtained from the oceans and ocean floors.
Ore deposits in bed-rock formations of the shelf region, such as those which are
exploited near Cornwall (England) and Newfoundland for example, are also irrelevant, as
these are merely extensions of discoveries on the nearby mainland.
The purpose of this chapter is to give a general review of the (inorganic) mineral
resources of the oceans and the ocean floors . In this respect, not only are the economically
important products which are already in use discussed, but also those materials which,
in their oceanic environment, can become of economic value in the near or more remote
future. For a better understanding of the existence of such materials, some deposits have
also had to be reviewed which will not become of economic value .
Since some contributions in this book are specifically dedicated to Recent marine
ferromanganese deposits and Recent phosphorite deposits, these mineral resources are
only briefly discussed in tllis chapter. (For details on Recent marine and lacustrine manganese
deposits see Chapters 7 and 8 by Glasby/Read and by Callender/Bowser, respectively,
in Volume 7.)
The litarature on the mineral (inorganic) resources of the oceans and ocean floors is
extremely extensive, so that a choice had to be made and, therefore, the bibliography
added to this chapter consists mainly of recent publications.