Deep Sea Diving, The New Gold Rush?

Written by on May 6, 2014 in Marine Life

By Audrey Clark

Is gold waiting at the bottom of the ocean?

Is gold waiting at the bottom of the ocean?

The Lure of Gold

While much has been written on the allure of gold and why it has captivated mankind for centuries, it has always been a treasure in limited supply. You might be surprised to learn that all the gold ever mined or recovered would not fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. On top of that, over 80 percent of the world’s supply of gold has been found since the California Gold Rush of 1849. These facts underlie the concept of a low supply of a product in high demand means high prices for that item. If you have watched the prices of gold escalate over the past decade, you understand there is a high and growing demand for gold and its many uses.

An Unlimited Supply?

Photo mosaic of the seafloor.

Photo mosaic of the seafloor showing deep-water coral. Photo credit: NOAA-OER.

As gold has no intrinsic value, its perceived value depends on this limited supply. However, the irony of rising prices is that it is now making it possible to seek out supplies of gold in increasingly exotic locations. Scientists tell us that 99 percent of the gold in the world is located in the earth’s core. This is, of course, inaccessible under any conceivable scenario.

However, if you are one who favors this precious metal, you might be intrigued to know those same scientists tell us that for every person alive, there are nine pounds each of gold waiting in veins on the floor of the deepest seas. According to National Geographic, that represents a value of $150 trillion at today’s market prices for gold.

Of course, knowing the gold is there and having the ability to bring it to market are two very different propositions. Due to the anticipated challenges and immense costs of any such effort, it has only been practical to consider it as gold prices rose above $2,000 an ounce.

A recent article in the National Geographic discusses the efforts of one company tackling the project, seeking to mine not only gold, but other minerals such as nickel, copper, and zinc that are known to be in these deposits. Initial efforts are focused on the coast of Papau New Guinea. The United Nations has closely studied this potential for a new Deep Sea Gold Rush and is actually preparing to issue licenses through its International Seabed Authority by 1916. Time will soon tell if the economics of deep-sea recovery will launch such a new gold rush.

To learn more about gold, check out this cool infographic: Gold Is From Space.

Audrey Clark is a writer who loves to travel and stay fit. She’s always looking for her next adventure. You can find Audrey on Google+.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

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