The Geological and Mining Institute and the University of Madrid have just completed a study that shows the richness of strategic metals that cover the seamounts or underwater mountains off the south west of El Hierro.
This report is based on several oceanographic investigations over recent years, and concludes that these seamounts are covered by extensive crusts of ferromanganese up to 10 centimetres thick.
These types of underwater deposits that are very rich in metals can take millions of years to form. In the case of this discovery off the coast of El Hierro, it is estimated that these extensive crusts of ferromanganese are aged between 32 and 50 million years in age.
Manganese is the twelfth most abundant metal found on the Earth’s crust and the name is taken from Manges, a Latin word meaning magnet. It was first used in the steel industry in Ancient Greece, where the presence of manganese in the iron ore is most likely to explain why the weapons made by the Spartans were better than their enemies. In 1771, Scheele a Swedish chemist first isolated and recognised manganese as an element. Later in 1860, Sir Henry Bessemer invented ferromanganese as a way to add manganese during steel making with the advantage that combining iron and manganese oxide produces a lower melting point for the alloy ferromanganese compare with pure manganese oxide.
So, El Hierro underwater coastline demonstrates a slower, but natural process of producing ferromanganese, and has been confirmed by this important geological investigation.
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