Digital Careoutside the circle

Tracer Studies

An image of various landscapes, with a simulation of the movement of
pollution trains from deep-sea mining in the Pacific Ocean
"Tracer Studies: Simulating the movement of pollution trails from deep-sea mining in the Pacific Ocean", 2022

Which new energy sources will ensure a viable future and what new problems might they create? In recent years, proponents of deep-sea mining have advocated that valuable minerals on the ocean floor can be excavated by companies and countries to manufacture environmentally-conscious energy sources, like material for batteries or electric cars. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean are currently being leased for such practices.

This visual investigation by the environmental justice project INTERPRT offers a counterpoint. Focusing specifically on an area of the Pacific Ocean set to be mined by The International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the mining industry, they utilised drone imagery, publicly available data and research-backed predictions to examine the potentially irreversible impacts of deep-sea mining.

The proposed mining process uses large, underwater collector vehicles to that rake the surface of the deep ocean floor to extract rocks containing valuable minerals – churning up living and non-living matter and creating sediment plumes. Tracer Studies uses open-source technology to model the predicted trajectory of these plumes as thermal currents carry them to protected areas of the ocean floor. Their visual investigation reminds us that extraction sites in the ocean are not isolated areas, but interconnected, fluid spaces teeming with life. As our demand for renewable energy escalates, how can we account for the increase in damage of these new mining practices?

Blue Peril, 2022 by INTERPRT.

Team – INTERPRT: Nabil Ahmed, Olga Lucko, Filip Wesołowski
Collaborators: Deep Sea Mining Campaign and Ozeanien Dialog
Hydrodynamic modeling and particle tracking: Dr. John Luick
Campaign website: