Exploration of deepwater polymetallic sulphides

The exploration of deepwater polymetallic sulphides in the axial zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was started in 1985.

In 1993-2017 the surveys covered large areas of the axial zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The geologists of PMGE manage to discover and survey 4 ore clusters (each includes at least two ore occurrences), and 8 ore bodies within the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

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These discoveries have made Russia one of the recognized world leaders in the exploration of the ocean sulfide ores.

Chronology of discoveries:
1994 – discovery of the ore cluster "Logatchev"
2003 – discovery of the ore cluster "Ashadze"
2004 – discovery of the ore cluster "Krasnov"
2007 – discovery of the ore cluster "Semenov"
2008 – discovery of the ore field "Zenith Victoria" and detailed specification of the ore field Puy-de-Foll
2010 – discovery of the ore field "Peterburgskoye"
2011 – discovery of the ore field "Irinovskoye"
2012 – discovery of the ore fields "Surpriz” and “Yubeinoye”
2014 – discovery of the ore field "Kholmistoye"
2015 – discovery of the ore cluster "Pobeda"

On October 29, 2012, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation and ISA signed a 15-year contract for exploration of polymetallic sulphides, which opened a new stage in Russian surveys of deepwater polymetallic sulfides.

Under the contract, in September 2020 it will be necessary to substantiate the selection of 50 potentially ore-bearing blocks and to reasonably abandon the 50 least promising ones, upon identifying the priority areas for the detailed exploration and complete geological analysis of the actual materials related to all 100 blocks of the Russian exploration area.

The explorations are to be conducted in three stages:
Stage 1: - 2013–2018, duration: 6 years
Stage 2: - 2019–2023, duration: 5 years
Stage 3: - 2024–2027, duration: 4 years

The expedition that would complete the set of the of geological and geophysical studies in the first 6-year stage started in December 2019.. The geologists should study the geological structure of the 18 blocks in the southern cluster REA-DWPS in the area of approximately 1,800 square kilometers in the axial zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

During the expedition the geologists of PMGE discovered two new hydrothermal ore field of deep-sea polymetallic sulphides, called "Corallovoye" and "Molodezhnoye". The polymetallic sulfide ore samples for a total weight of about 150 kg were lifted aboard the Professor Logachev research vessel from the Korallovoye hydrothermal field at a depth of more than 3500 m.

Results of Stage 1 (2013-2018)
  • The geologists of PMGE surveyed 82 of 100 REA blocks
  • 12 ore bodies were identified and studied in the course of the surveys
  • The forecast resources are estimated at 104.8 million tonnes of copper-zinc and copper pyrite ores
  • According to the geologists of PMGE, the ore in these sites contains 3 949.5 thous. tons of copper, 738.4 thous. tons of zinc, 119 tons of gold and 1 679.7 tons of silver

Operations to be performed during DWPS surveys

Work packageObjective to be achieved
Benthic sonar profiling with electroprospecting along the regular network of profiles
  • surveys of peculiarities in locations of the bottom sediments and bedrocks
  • identification of specific features in meso- and micro-relief, fault tectonics and sites promising in terms of ore discovery
Hydrophysical profilingDetection of hydrophysical anomalies associated with discharges from ore-bearing hydrothermal springs
Geological testing by box-corer (or bottom sampler) and rock dredge
  • survey of the operation area geological structure
  • prospecting of metalliferous sediments and hydrothermal bedrock alteration zones
Television profiling of identified anomalous zonesVisual search for ore bodies
Geological sampling with a telegrabTesting of the revealed sulphide ores
Oceanographic and associated environmental studies
Engineering geological surveysIdentification of the geological conditions in the occurrence of the detected ore bodies


  • Region
    Atlantic Ocean
  • Type
    Geological surveys, foreign contract
  • Year
    ongoing project
  • Contractor
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