Recent deep-water sampling of mineral-rich crusts on the seafloor between the Hawaiian Islands and Samoa revealed deposits of cobalt, nickel, and manganese that are richer than previous samples, according to a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Federal Republic of Germany aboard the research vessel S.P. Lee.
Thin pieces of crust dredged from a seamount about 260 km northwest of Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef (U.S. territorial possessions roughly midway between Honolulu and American Samoa) had a cobalt concentration of 2.5%, or more than twice the concentration that earlier reconnaissance studies indicated would be found. The rock samples also contained 0.8% nickel and 32% manganese, compared to the estimated concentrations of 0.5% and 25%, respectively. The areas in which the deposits were found are part of the relatively unexplored ocean bottom included in the recently proclaimed 200-nautical-mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).