A Chinese manned submersible has discovered a collection of polymetallic nodules in Puyuan Seamount in the disputed South China Sea. The submersible named ‘Jiaolong’ was underwater for six and a half hours on the second stage of China’s 38th ocean scientific expedition, which will last until May 13. “Learning the distribution of polymetallic nodules will help us to choose a site for experimenting with collection, which is one of the main goals of the mission,” Wu Changbin, general commander of the second stage of the expedition said.
Polymetallic nodules contains more than 10 kinds of elements including manganese, iron, copper, nickel and cobalt. Three crew in the submersible brought back samples of seawater from near the seabed, sediment, high-definition photographs and video footage, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. They also brought back a sea lily and a branch of red coral in the sample of polymetallic nodules 2,000 metres deep beneath sea surface.
The maximum depth of the dive was 2,029 metres. The 38th oceanic scientific expedition started on February 6. Jiaolong completed a dive in the northwestern Indian Ocean earlier this year in the mission’s first stage. It will also conduct surveys in the Yap Trench and the Mariana Trench in the third stage. Named after a mythical dragon, Jiaolong reached its deepest depth of 7,062 meters in the Mariana Trench in June 2012.