China uses deep-sea sub Jialong to look for minerals in Indian Ocean

China yesterday marked its first dive into the depths lowering a submersible into the depths of the southwest Indian Ocean to look for deposits of copper, zinc and other precious metals, PTI reported.

The submersible, Jiaolong, this morning commenced its dive in hydrothermal area in Indian Ocean.

China had already secured contracts for the exploration of Indian Ocean for polymetallic sulphide ore and its research vessel had discovered two hydrothermal areas and four hydrothermal anomaly areas in February this year in southwest Indian Ocean.

Earlier, China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) had described the discovery of poly metallic deposits as "beyond anticipation".

According to the SOA scientists onboard, the "Dayang-1" research vessel also gained insights into the origins of carbonate hydrothermal areas and made successful attempts to explore for sulfide.

Hydrothermal sulfide, a kind of sea-bed deposit contains copper, zinc and precious metals such as gold and silver.

China's Xinhua news agency reported that the metals formed sulfides after chemical reactions and came to rest in the seabed in "chimney vents."

Consolidating its presence in the Indian Ocean region, China had, in 2012 gained approval to explore a 10,000 sq km polymetallic sulphide ore deposit in an international seabed region of the southwest Indian Ocean.

Fu Wentao, a diver; Ye Cong, chief designer of Jiaolong and an employee of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp; and Tao Chunhui, researcher with the Second Institute of Oceanography of the State Oceanic Administration were among the crew of the vessel.

According to Fu, as the first task of Jialong's Indian Ocean mission, the main purpose of the dive was to test whether all parts of the submersible worked well after a four-month-maintenance, Xinhua reported. He added that the depth of the dive was around 2,700 meters to 3,000 meters.

"If the submersible is all fine and there is extra time left, we will carry out some scientific investigations," he said.

"Our scientists want to get some samples of rocks, biology and sulfide in the submarine hydrothermal area," Tao said, adding: "If we are lucky enough to find an active hydrothermal vent, we will try to get a sample of the hydrothermal fluid and test its temperature."