The relevance of understanding principles of plate tectonics for the extractive industries can hardly be overestimated. The knowledge of plate boundaries is particularly important for metals exploration. Exploration geologists can receive valuable insights into the principles of an ore-generating environment by exploring plate tectonics. (Sawkins, 1984)
In fact, the continental shelf is already actively used for the purposes of exploration of different minerals. For instance, the large petroleum traps in the Middle East are the direct result of plate tectonics. (Hyne, 2012) The same also concerns metal extraction, as the understanding of plate tectonics and boundaries has even more sustainable potential for the development of exploration and production. (Sawkins, 1984) Nowadays, the research shows that deposits of metal oxides and precious metals are the product of segregating solid ore minerals or of ore melt from a large liquid silicate body. Moreover, a large number of giant base metal deposits are formed as the result of hot metalliferous fluids venting on the seafloor. The study of plate tectonics is closely related to these sources. In fact, the world’s most fruitful bases of ore include continental margins or are related to subduction in another way. (Pohl, 2011)

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At the same time, it is necessary to acknowledge and outline the challenges connected to this type of exploration. First and foremost, the question of increasing exploration and mining costs arises. Unsurprisingly, drilling in the deep waters, just as any other type of exploration or production work, is associated with even higher costs. (Hyne, 2012)

One solution to the challenges of increased costs of underwater mining comes from the geological peculiarities of ocean slopes themselves. The production has to deal with relatively young sands with high porosities that allow to yield minerals at a high rate. (Hyne, 2012) Thus, the solution to the increase in costs is a smart usage of ocean geology with exploration focused in particular areas that allow for production at a more accelerated rate.

  • P Sawkins, F. (1984). Metal deposits in relation to plate tectonics. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
  • Hyne, N. (2012). Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum Geology, Exploration, Drilling, and Production (3rd Edition). Tulsa: PennWell.
  • Pohl, W. (2011). Economic geology. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.