Afanasy Nikitin Seamount

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India recently applied to the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) for rights to explore two vast tracts in the Indian Ocean seabed, including a cobalt-rich crust long known as the Afanasy Nikitin Seamount (AN Seamount).

About Afanasy Nikitin Seamount

  • The AN Seamount is a structural feature (400 km-long and 150 km-wide) in the Central Indian Basin, located about 3,000 km away from India’s coast.
  • It comprises a main plateau, rising 1200 m above the surrounding ocean floor (4800m), and secondary elevated seamount highs.
  • It is rich in deposits of cobalt, nickel, manganese, and copper.

What is a Seamount?

  • It is an underwater mountain formed through volcanic activity.
  • These are recognised as hotspots for marine life.
  • Like volcanoes on land, seamounts can be active, extinct, or dormant volcanoes.
  • These are formed near mid-ocean ridges, where the earth’s tectonic plates are moving apart, allowing molten rock to rise to the seafloor.
  • The planet’s two most-studied mid-ocean ridges are the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the East Pacific Rise.
  • Some seamounts have also been found near intraplate hotspots—regions of heavy volcanic activity within a plate—and oceanic island chains with volcanic and seismic activity called island arcs.
  • Significance of seamounts:
    • They provide information about the mantle’s composition and how tectonic plates evolve.
    • These are helpful in understanding their influence on how water circulates and absorbs heat and carbon dioxide.
    • They are good places for life because they can cause localised ocean upwelling, the process by which nutrient-rich water from deep within the ocean moves up to the surface.

Q1) What is the International Seabed Authority (ISBA)?

It is an international organization established in 1994 to regulate mining and related activities in the international seabed beyond national jurisdiction, an area that includes most of the world’s oceans. The ISA came into existence upon the entry into force of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which codified international law regarding territorial waters, sea lanes, and ocean resources. The ISA is responsible for granting licenses and regulating activities related to the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in the international seabed.

Source: Sensing China threat, India joins race to mine new sea patch