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TitleFerromanganese concretion bottoms as habitats and a renewable resource in the Baltic Sea
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LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorKotilainen, A T; Kaskela, A M; Alanen, U; Kiviluoto, S; Kontula, T; Kostamo, K; Kurvinen, L; Sahla, M; Sippo, A; Virtanen, E
SourceProgram and abstracts: 2017 GeoHab Conference, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada; by Todd, B JORCID logo; Brown, C J; Lacharité, M; Gazzola, V; McCormack, E; Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 8295, 2017 p. 68, Open Access logo Open Access
LinksGeoHab 2017
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
Meeting2017 GeoHab: Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping; Dartmouth, NS; CA; May 1-4, 2017
Documentopen file
Mediaon-line; digital
RelatedThis publication is contained in Program and abstracts: 2017 GeoHab Conference, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
File formatpdf
AreaBaltic Sea
Lat/Long WENS 10.0000 30.5000 66.0000 53.7500
Subjectseconomic geology; marine geology; surficial geology/geomorphology; environmental geology; mapping techniques; oceanography; marine environments; conservation; marine organisms; marine ecology; resource management; biological communities; environmental studies; ecosystems; marine sediments; silts; clays; glacial deposits; postglacial deposits; mineral potential; mineral deposits; iron; manganese; phosphorus; nodules; manganese nodules; iron concretions, manganese; pollutants; grab samples; core samples; photography; benthos; bottom currents; erosion; reefs; Biology; Renewable resources
ProgramOffshore Geoscience
Released2017 09 26
AbstractFerromanganese (FeMn) concretions, also called FeMn nodules or polymetallic nodules, are iron-manganese-rich mineral precipitates on the seabed. Those concretions are found in deep waters (e.g. the Pacific Ocean) but also in shallow seas like in the Baltic Sea. FeMn concretions are formed on the seabed by natural geochemical processes, catalyzed by micro-organisms, e.g. archaea and bacteria. These supposedly renewable resources, FeMn deposits, have well known economic importance. They contain the high concentrations of iron, manganese, phosphorous but also rare earth elements and environmental pollutants. However their role e.g. in the internal loading of nutrients and their ecological significance is still relatively poorly known.
Here we present FeMn concretion data from the Finnish waters of the Baltic Sea. The data has been collected over the past decades in the national marine geological mapping program of the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) (1984-2016) and in the Finnish Inventory Program for the Underwater Marine Environment (VELMU) (2005-2015). The data include nodule observations from nearly 300 sediment samples (e.g. box corer and van Veen grab samples), 7000 video observations/points and over 70 scuba dives.
Different types of FeMn -concretions (e.g. spheroidal, discoidal, irregular and crusts/plates) were found at the seafloor with water depths between 1-75 metres. Also the size of the concretions varied from small millimetre scale spheroidal nodules to large metre scale plates. FeMn concretions occurred in all studied sea areas, from the eastern Gulf of Finland, up north to the Bothnian Bay. However, concretion fields/sites that form a HELCOM HUB-class "Baltic bottoms with at least 90% coverage of FeMn concretions" type habitat occurred only in the Gulf of Finland and the Archipelago Sea. Sediment sample data show that FeMn concretions (1-3 cm thick layer) often cover silty clay (glacial and postglacial) seabed substrates.
FeMn concretions increase the microscale seabed heterogeneity (geodiversity) by forming relatively hard substrate on the predominantly soft seafloor sediment. Concretions provide a 3D environment and hard physical structures, and support benthic communities, probably increasing biodiversity. In addition, concretion fields and crusts can protect the seafloor from erosion by near-bottom currents. It is likely that these mineral deposits occurring in the Baltic Sea form an EU Habitats Directive habitat 'Biogenic reef', of which a representative part should be protected according to EU legislation.
Ferromanganese concretions could also provide future mineral potential. However, the sustainable utilization of these marine resources and the need for marine environment protection pose great challenges for the development of ecosystem-based maritime spatial planning processes and efficient Blue Growth.
This work is a part of the SmartSea project that is funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland, grant No: 292 985, and the assessment of marine habitat types (LuTU-Itämeri) that will be carried out 2016-2017 in a group of national experts from the universities, research institutes and authorities.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
The sixteenth annual GeoHab Conference was held this year (2017) at the Waterfront Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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