During deep sea mining of polymetallic nodules, a crawler collects nodules by suction head. In the process, sediment is being pumped in together with the nodules. The water-sediment mixture is released via an exhaust system, potentially leading to a sediment plume.
IMDC has developed a methodology to downscale ocean models, with ability to capture the currents, temperature and density throughout the water column, with specific detail near the deep ocean floor. The model has been set up in the TELEMAC software, and is designed to simulate the dispersion of any passive substance, for example sediment plumes. Both return water plumes at midwater and collector exhaust plumes near the ocean floor can be simulated in 3D and in time domain.
The sediment dispersion model can be used to optimise environmental impact of turbidity during deep sea mining.