Plate Tectonics & Marine Resources

Assignments completed in a narrative essay or composition format must follow the citation style cited in the American Psychological Association (APA). One page with references and they must be cited in the writing.


Here are this week’s essay options:

(1)NEWSFLASH – The Japanese Government has announced that the cores and radioactive wastes from the crippled Fukushima Nuclear Plant are going to be removed from the plant areas. Some of this material has a half-life of about 400,000 years. Rather than bury them under the remains of the reactor buildings and leave them on land, after sealing these materials in glass (see comment below) they will just take them to one of the oceans deepest points – the bottom of the Japan Trench (which is 6.7 miles deep, is right off the coast and is actually where the earthquake waves started as the ocean-floor rock was subducting) – and bury them in the bottom sediments right there. This will be done using robotics and ROV’s to set the waste vessels and covered reactor cores in place. Here’s the question – From your knowledge of how plate tectonics work, explain FIRST why this bright idea is (a) truly good!, and then SECOND, why the idea is (b) truly awful! Explain it in terms of plate tectonics. Note: The idea is to vitrify the waste (seal it in solid glass, tough stuff, doesn’t corrode, won’t crush) before disposal on land or at sea. Please read the attached article on just what the problem is in the U.S. too. When researching this question remember Godzilla was only a movie.

OR (2) Marine resources are anything of value that can be taken from the sea or seabed. It includes a lot, but doesn’t include transit, recreation, aesthetics, or other non-consumptive uses. List the three marine resources that have the GREATEST TOTAL ANNUAL MONETARY ($$) VALUE, including the sources for your data. Remember these are materials or resources that humans take out of the oceans and sell. In other words what are The-Big-Three-From-the-Sea?

OR (3) As human populations around the world continue to grow and thus people seek more products and services the demand for raw materials, particularly metals continues to increase. Most major sources of metals needed by modern technological societies (iron, copper, aluminum, manganese, zinc) have been mined out and depleted on many areas of the earth’s continents. Since most metal ores and mineral resources are brought to or near the surface of the earth by volcanic and tectonic processes then these valuable materials occur on the ocean floors. (a) Explain how knowledge of plate tectonics and the location of plate boundaries on the ocean floors could be used to locate these valuable resources. what scientific instruments might be used to locate these resources? (b) Describe some difficulties and technical problems that might be involved in trying to mine the ocean floor and suggest some possible solutions to make this process possible. Hint; black smokers. Note: As stated above most ore deposits on land have been mined out. Today mining companies are digging up ores that have less than 5% metal-content. However, black smoker stacks and manganese nodules are in many instances 85+% metal. But think of the cost of extraction of metals from low-grade land ores vs cost of mining deep-sea ores. Also the UNCLOS Treaty requires mining companies to turn over part of their profits to the U.N.

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