Posted on September 18, 2018 by Yonature
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According to the Maritime Zones Act 2005, natural resources refer to minerals and other non-living materials found in the subsoil and seabed and the marine organisms in a sedentary state, that is, they are unfit for movement when they are harvested or depend on water or soil movement for displacement .
Minerals present in the continental shelf
The island of Mauritius emerged from the sea about 7-10 million years ago; four volcanic episodes created the land mass that we can now see. Each phase created a different layer of minerals, starting from the oldest to the most recent: 
- the Breccia series – basalt oceanites (mineral olivine)
- the Old lava series – picrite basalt (rich in the mineral olivine), olivine basalt, hawaites (rich in andesite pyroxene), basalt rich in feldspars, andesites, hawaites, mugearites (oligoclase)
- the Early lava series – olivine basalt
- the Recent lava series – olivine basalt
Resources found on the ocean floor
Deep-sea drilling of the ocean floor reveals the presence of polymetallic nodules in the Indian Ocean. It is estimated that these nodules have a coverage of about 10-15 million km2, weighing about 1.5×1011 tonnes, across the whole of the Indian Ocean .
Mauritius is located in the West Indian Ocean Basin; geomorphological analyses of the seabed near Mauritius report numerous seamounts and guyots (flat based mountains), trenches and fractures . All these different structures influence the type of minerals that can possibly be found in the areas close to Mauritius.
- Polymetallic nodules – they are rich in manganese and are located in the sediment of the deep sea; important metals include copper, nickel, cobalt.
- Ferromanganese crust – 11% of the total ferromanganese crust minerals is evaluated to be in the Indian Ocean. They usually form on the surface and flanks of seamounts. The crust is a source of cobalt, nickel, manganese, titanium, copper, cerium and trace metals tungsten, molybdenum, platinum and tellurium.
- Polymetallic sulphides – hydrothermal polymetallic sulphides are usually located around volcanic structures in mid-ocean ridges, island arcs or back-arc spreading zones. These are the black smoker zones pilling up important metal ores of copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, germanium, bismuth, indium and selenium .
Recently, new discoveries suggest that Mauritius may be lying on a part of an oceanic crust or microcontinent called ‘Mauritia’. The land mass broke off Madagascar during plate separation 65 million years ago but finally sunk to the bottom . Being made of continental granite, mineral content in this layer could be fascinating. Detrital zircons have already been found in the granitic rock as lava-plumes have brought minerals to the surface .
Sedentary marine organisms in the Mauritian waters
Shallow water species that have been identified include the:
- annelida (worms; ⁓42 species),
- arthropoda (crustaceans, organisms with exoskeleton; about ⁓660 species),
- ascomyta (fungi; ⁓74 species),
- bacillariophyta (microalgae; 1 species),
- basidiomycota (fungi; 2 species),
- brachiopod (organisms with upper and lower valves; 3 species),
- chaetognatha (arrow worms; 18 species),
- chlorophyta (green algae; about ⁓180 species),
- cnidaria (jellyfish, coral polyps; ⁓450 species),
- cyanophycota (blue green algae; ⁓76 species),
- deuteromycotina (imperfect fungi; 14 species),
- echinodermata (organisms with radial symmetry like starfish; ⁓170 species),
- echuira (spoon worms; 2 species),
- ectoprocta (filter feeders; ⁓40 species),
- hemichordate (worms; 2 species),
- heterokontophyta (algae; 1 species),
- magnoliophyta (flowering plants; 10 species),
- mollusca (molluscs; ⁓2050 species),
- nemertea (ribbon worms; 5 species),
- phaetophyta (brown algae; ⁓85 species),
- phyllophoridae (sea cucumber; 1 species),
- porifera (sponge; ⁓80 species),
- rhodophyta (red algae; ⁓species) and
- sipuncula (worms; 17 species) .
To date, 8,000 sedimentary marine organisms have been documented in the Western Indian Ocean shallow waters . A comprehensive study of the marine creatures on the ocean floor is still to be made as deep sea exploration is quite difficult to undertake.
In 2011, 6 new sea creatures were discovered in vents in the South West Indian Ocean floor . More recently, oil and gas reserves have been detected near Seychelles . All these discoveries suggest that the deep ocean floor around Mauritius may be hiding a lot of amazing treasures.
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Category: Environment Tags: black smoker zones, breccia series, continental shelf, echinoderms, ferromanganese crust, fractures, Gonwana, guyots, hydrothermal vents, maritime zones act 2005, mauritia, mauritius, microcontinent, midocean ridge, minerals, natural resources, polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides, seabed, sedentary organims, subsoil, trenches, volcanic episodes, volcano