Born of fire erupting through a spreading Atlantic seafloor, the four seamounts are now dormant and gnarly with porous black basalt. The astonishing aspect of a seamount is its mean rock porosity of 60% and extraordinarily high surface area. This acts like a sponge absorbing rare minerals from the enormous quantities of seawater that flow over for millennia. Minerals that are in trace amounts in seawater are accreted into hydrogenous ferromanganese crusts that pave the seamount’s jagged surfaces.
In the crusts of seamounts are the same high-tech and rare earth minerals that are mined in China. To the consternation of other nations, China refuses to export rare earth minerals forcing high tech-companies to move their manufacturing to China. Similar mines could be opened in California but that would cost more than manufacturing in China. China plans to commence mining in Greenland to meet rising demand. The Danish government is not too pleased with the prospect.
High-tech metals highly concentrated in the crusts of seamounts include tellurium, cobalt, bismuth, zirconium, niobium, tungsten, molybdenum, platinum, titanium, and thorium. Tellurium is combined with bismuth in an alloy that is being tested as a next-generation computer chip that is more efficient and immensely faster than existing chips. Tellurium is combined with cadmium into an alloy that is considered the best material for production of multi-terawatt solar-cell electricity using thin-film photovoltaic technology.
The solar-cell industry has expressed interest in mining hydrogenous ferromanganese crusts of seamounts, and they are not alone. The rare earth elements on the surfaces of the seamounts off New England’s shores include cerium, europium, lanthanum, and yttrium, a.k.a. Ce, Eu, La, and Y.
Cerium is a chemical oxidizing agent and polishing powder. It gives glass and ceramics yellow colors. Ce is a catalyst for self-cleaning ovens and a fluid catalytic cracking catalyst for oil refineries. Ferrocerium flints spark lighters.
Europium is in red and blue phosphors, lasers, mercury-vapor lamps, fluorescent lamps, and a NMR relaxation agent.
Lanthanum is in high refractive index and alkali-resistant glass. La is component of flint, hydrogen storage, battery-electrodes, camera lenses, and a fluid catalytic
cracking catalyst for oil refineries.
Yttrium is used in energy-efficient light bulbs. Y is necessary for yttrium aluminium garnet (YAG) laser, yttrium vanadate (YVO4) as host for europium in television red phosphor, YBCO high-temperature superconductors, yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ), yttrium iron garnet (YIG) microwave filters, spark plugs, gas mantles, as well as an additive to steel.
Now the rare earth elements and high-tech metal mining-eye of Mordor is turning to seamounts. First to Pacific Ocean seamounts because the Pacific is much older than the Atlantic so there have been greater accretions of their precious treasures.
President George W. Bush protected Pacific seamounts when he created by proclamation Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Hawaii-born President Obama on August 26, 2016, quadrupled the amount of protected waters, the single largest fully protected conservation area in the world.
The solar panel industry claims to slow global warming they must meet demands for cheap solar panels by strip-mining the four American seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean off of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket; where Nobody need know what is lost in the destruction beneath distant waves.
The rare earth elements and high-minerals could also be mined from ancient seamounts in Mountain Pass, California. This would raise the cost for consumers because the mining would employ more people. They justify scraping to oblivion four underwater island peaks of remarkably diverse ecosystems saying that the organisms should thank the massive remote-operated mining machinery for cleaning off crusty accretions down to pure basalt rock surfaces, exposing rock that has not tasted seawater for forty million years.
President Obama should stand up to powerful mineral mining interests to protect four Atlantic Ocean seamounts (Bear, Physalia, Mytilus, and Retriever). The president should also designate five essential sperm whale habitats, ocean canyons (Oceanographer, Gilbert, and Lydonia), as a national marine monument. This will permanently protect colossal essential places - habitats that are like no other in American waters.