Research highlight

Metal-rich mud

Nature Geoscience

July 4, 2011

Deep-sea mud is a highly promising giant resource for rare-earth elements and the metal yttrium, according to a study published online in Nature Geoscience this week.World demand for rare-earth elements and yttrium — crucial for electronic equipment and green energy technologies — is rapidly increasing. Yasuhiro Kato and colleagues analysed the composition of more than 2,000 samples of seafloor sediments in the Pacific Ocean. The sediments contained high concentrations of rare-earth elements and yttrium. The researchers estimate that an area of just one square kilometre, surrounding one of the sampling sites, could provide one-fifth of the current annual world consumption of these elements.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo1185

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