Researchers are working on a way to predict what mineral resources will be generated on the ocean floor. 

Researchers at The University of Queensland have led a new study that examined the remnants of ocean floors in eastern Australia and central Asia and applied a method to date the age of calcite trapped inside.

The findings could make it easier to source critical minerals used in renewable and clean technologies.

“Calcite and other hydrothermal minerals are often observed in critical mineral deposits and form under mineralising fluid activities,” says Dr Renjie Zhou from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

“Our work shows that we can trace the history of fluids in the Earth’s crust and see when and what mineral resources they might generate.”

The renewable energy sector is continuing to grow rapidly with increasing demand for technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and batteries.

“These often require large quantities of critical minerals,” he said.

“Electric vehicles need up to four times more copper than conventional cars and a single wind turbine uses several tonnes of permanent magnets made of rare earth metals.”

Dr Zhou said being able to study and discover these minerals is going to become increasingly important.

The study is accessible here.