Indian Deep Sea Exploration program


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Apr 13, 2013
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Indian scientists to set sail in search of valuable minerals
Indian scientists are preparing to set sail to a region of the Indian Ocean, off the East coast of Madagascar, where they believe are plenty of valuable minerals to pick up.

It’s been two years since India leased a 10,000 sq km area (for 15 years) from the International Seabed Authority, part of the United Nations; so, there is a lot of work to be done before the country shovels in the riches. But a beginning is to be made at least by next year, said M Ravichandran, Director, National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa.

NCPOR and Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), will jointly purchase an autonomous underwater vehicle — an unmanned, pre-programmed vehicle that can dive into the ocean and collect pictures and samples. Both NCPOR and NIOT are research institutions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Ravichandran told Business Line that NCPOR has “identified a dozen locations”, potential candidates for detailed exploration for tapping into minerals spewed by ‘hydrothermal vents’.

Hydrothermal vents
The Earth has about 65,000 km of underwater mountain ranges called the mid-ocean ridges. Like mountains on land, these ridges represent ‘weak’ spots, where it is easy for the semi-solid material from the mantle of the Earth to escape to the surface. This ‘escape’ is sometimes in the form of volcanoes.

The mid-ocean ridges are also known for their volcanic activity — several islands in the Pacific ocean were formed by the molten rock spewed by them. But often, stuff from under the Earth’s crust also escapes through ‘vents’ in the mountains. The discovery of such hydrothermal vent systems in the deep oceanic ridges has generated a lot of interest, mainly because of the material spewed can contain valuable metals such as copper, zinc, gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

“Apart from their economic potential, sea-floor hydrothermal vents are characterised by dense biological communities,” says a NCPOR note on the subject. More than 700 species have been reported, it adds.

At a point in the Indian ocean off the coast of Madagascar, around 26° South, three mid-ocean ridges intersect.

This is estimated to be a highly productive area. The massive deposits “can range from several thousands to 100 million tonnes,” said the NCPOR. The sea-bed sampling that NCPOR is planning for next year will pinpoint the best areas for further exploration and mining.

NIOT also expects to send another (home-made) vehicle to another region of the Indian ocean next month, to check the machine’s ability to crawl on the extremely greasy sea-bed. This region has been proven to contain rich deposits of polymetallic nodules that hold copper and cobalt.

India has an exclusive exploration right over a 75,000 sq km area.

The machine, currently stationed at NIOT, will move on tracks, but in order they don’t get mired into the seabed, the vehicle has buoys on it to keep pulling it upwards. This machine is a precursor to another equipment, informally christened ‘Samudrayaan’, which will contain a module to hold human beings.

fire starter

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Jan 14, 2020
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National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) will launch ‘Samudrayaan project by 2021-22 to explore the deep sea region. It is pilot project of Union Ministry of Earth Sciences as part the Rs 6000 crore ‘Deep Ocean’ mission for deep ocean mining of rare minerals.

About the project

It is an initiative of the National Institute of Ocean Technology
Similar to ISRO’s plan to carry persons on a space mission(Gaganyaan Mission), NIOT has undertaken Samudrayaan.

The project proposes to send a submersible vehicle with three persons to a depth of about 6000 metres to carry out deep underwater studies

The ‘Samudrayaan’ is a part of the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ pilot project for deep ocean mining for rare minerals.

The success of the ‘Samudrayaan’ will help India to join the league of developed nations in the exploration of minerals from oceans.

The success of the ‘Samudrayaan’ will help India to join the league of developed nations in the exploration of minerals from oceans


Apr 29, 2015
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India to launch deep sea mission in 3-4 months: MoES official
Dr. M. Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.

The mission, which is expected to cost over ₹4,000 crore, will give a boost to efforts to explore India’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf, he said.
India will soon launch an ambitious ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ that envisages exploration of minerals, energy and marine diversity of the underwater world, a vast part of which still remains unexplored, a top official of the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.
The ministry’s secretary, M Rajeevan, said required approvals are being obtained for the “futuristic and game-changing” mission, and it is likely to be launched in the next 3-4 months.
The mission, which is expected to cost over ₹4,000 crore, will give a boost to efforts to explore India’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf, another senior official of the MoES said.
Mr. Rajeevan said the mission will also involve developing technologies for different deep ocean initiatives.
The multi-disciplinary work will be piloted by the MoES and other government departments like the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will be stakeholders in this mission, Mr. Rajeevan added.
Some of the technologies involved will be developed by organisations such as the ISRO and DRDO.
One of the main aspects of the mission will be design, development and demonstration of human submersibles, the MoES official said.
Another aspect is exploring the possibility of deep sea mining and developing necessary technologies, the official added.
The official said the move strategically significant as it will enhance India’s presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.
Last week, China live-streamed footage of its new manned submersible parked at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. This was part of its mission into the deepest underwater valley on the planet.
India has been ear-marked nearly 1.5 lakh square kilometres of area in the central Indian Ocean for exploration.
In September 2016, India signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS) in the Indian Ocean.
The ISA is an institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a Party.
The 15-year contract formalised India’s exclusive rights for exploration of PMS in the allotted area in the Indian Ocean.
The ISA earlier approved 10,000 sq. km for India with a 15-year PMS exploration plan along the Central Indian Ridge (CIR) and Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR) region of the Indian Ocean.
Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS), which contain iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold, platinum in variable constitutions, are precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust, discharged through mineralized chimneys.
PMS in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term commercial as well as strategic values.
The aim is to be prepared when rules are formalised in this area. The deep oceans frontier is yet to be explored. We have been working on it on a piecemeal basis but the thrust is to carry out work on mission mode, the official added. The mission will also involve procurement of more advanced deep sea vessels for explorations. The existing vessel Sagar Kanya is nearly three-and-half decades old.
Apr 29, 2015
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From older article:
©The Hindu
Explained | What is India's Deep Ocean Mission

What is the country’s Deep Ocean Mission all about? What are the metals that can be extracted?

The story so far: India’s ambitious ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ is all set to be launched this year. Dr. Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary, Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, announced on July 27 that the ₹8,000-crore plan to explore deep ocean minerals will start from October. He said, “We finally have the in-principle approval to go ahead with the mission. Now expenditure plans will be drawn up and circulated [to various institutions affiliated to the Ministry] for executing programmes and we hope to launch by October 31.”

What will be mined from the deep ocean?
One of the main aims of the mission is to explore and extract polymetallic nodules. These are small potato-like rounded accretions composed of minerals such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper and iron hydroxide. They lie scattered on the Indian Ocean floor at depths of about 6,000 m and the size can vary from a few millimetres to centimetres. These metals can be extracted and used in electronic devices, smartphones, batteries and even for solar panels.

Where will the team mine?
The International Seabed Authority (ISA), an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, allots the ‘area’ for deep-sea mining. India was the first country to receive the status of a ‘Pioneer Investor ‘ in 1987 and was given an area of about 1.5 lakh sq km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for nodule exploration. In 2002, India signed a contract with the ISA and after complete resource analysis of the seabed 50% was surrendered and the country retained an area of 75,000 sq km.

According to a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential in this area is 380 million tonnes (MT), containing 4.7 MT of nickel, 4.29 MT of copper, 0.55 MT of cobalt and 92.59 MT of manganese. Further studies have helped narrow the mining area to 18,000 sq km which will be the ‘First Generation Mine-site’.

Which are the other countries that are in the race to mine the deep sea?
Apart from the CIOB, polymetallic nodules have been identified from the central Pacific Ocean. It is known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.

According to the ISA’s website, it has entered into 15-year contracts for exploration for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the deep seabed with 29 contractors. Later it was extended for five more years till 2022. China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia and also some small islands such as the Cook Islands, Kiribati have joined the race for deep sea mining. Most of the countries have tested their technologies in shallow waters and are yet to start deep-sea extraction.

When will India start mining?
India’s mining site is at about a depth of 5,500 metres, where there is a high pressure and extremely low temperature. Explains Dr. G.A. Ramadass, head of the Deep Sea Technologies Group, National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, “We have developed and demonstrated the mining technology with artificial nodules at 500 metres depth. We have also deployed Remotely Operated Vehicle and In-situ Soil Tester in the depth of 6,000 metres and have a thorough understanding of the mining area at the Central Indian Ocean Basin.” He adds, “The mining machine newly developed for 6000 metres depth was able to move about 900 metres and will be deployed soon at 5,500 metres. We hope to test it in October this year. Weather conditions and availability of ships also play a role. More tests are being conducted to understand how to bring the nodules up to the surface. A riser system comprising an umbilical cable or electromechanical cable and a hose is being developed.”

What will be the environmental impact?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these deep remote locations can be home to unique species that have adapted themselves to conditions such as poor oxygen and sunlight, high pressure and extremely low temperatures. Such mining expeditions can make them go extinct even before they are known to science. The deep sea’s biodiversity and ecology remain poorly understood, making it difficult to assess the environmental impact and frame adequate guidelines.

Dr. Ramadass adds that though strict guidelines have been framed, they are only exploration guidelines. A new set of exploitation guidelines are being worked out and discussions are on with the ISA. Environmentalists are also worried about the sediment plumes that will be generated as the suspended particles can rise to the surface harming the filter feeders in the upper ocean layers. Additional concerns have been raised about the noise and light pollution from the mining vehicles and oil spills from the operating vessels.

Is deep sea mining economically viable?
The latest estimate from the ISA says it will be commercially viable only if about three million tonnes are mined per year. More studies are being carried out to understand how the technology can be scaled up and used efficiently.


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Oct 27, 2019
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It is crazy how less than 20% of our global ocean has been explored by the scientists.



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Apr 13, 2013
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Deep Ocean Mission

Posted On: 15 MAR 2021 3:22PM by PIB Delhi

The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed as multi-ministerial multi-disciplinary programme with emphasis on development of deep sea technology, exploration of deep sea mineral resources and biodiversity, acquisition of a research vessel for exploration, deep sea observations, and capacity building. Ministry of Earth Sciences is the nodal agency for implementing the programme. The major objectives proposed under Deep Ocean Mission are as follows:

  1. Development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics;
  2. Development of ocean climate change advisory services;
  3. Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deepsea biodiversity;
  4. Deep ocean survey and exploration;
  5. Proof of concept studies on energy and freshwater from the ocean; and
  6. Establishing advanced marine station for ocean biology

The year wise and component wise estimates of the scheme are as follows:






Phase I

Review of Phase-I



Phase II



Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, Underwater Vehicles and Underwater Robotics.










Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services,










Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep sea biodiversity,










Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration,










Energy and freshwater from the Ocean










Advanced marine station for Ocean Biology


















Phase I


Phase II


The Deep Ocean Mission is proposed to be a Central Sector Scheme and no separate allocation for States is envisaged. The funds are expected to be allocated based on the above estimates.

It is proposed to collaborate with non-governmental organizations for research collaboration for various components of Deep Ocean Mission.

Under Deep Ocean Mission, it is proposed to develop, test and demonstrate the mining technology for harvesting of polymetallic nodules from the Test Mine Site (TMS) in the allocated area of 75000 sq. km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB). A manned submersible for 6000 m depth is also proposed to be developed as an ocean exploratory tool.

This information was given by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare in a written reply in Lok Sabha on March 12, 2021.


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Jul 15, 2018
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Samudrayaan is no less than a gagnyaan. ISRO also involved in the project.

6000 m depth rated Manned Submersible.jpg
Manned Submaersible.jpg


major subsystems.jpg

Major Subsystems Of the Samudrayaan

6000 m depth rated Manned Submersible.jpg
Manned Submaersible.jpg
internal view onboard Sagar Nidhi.jpg

Matsya is like Crew Module of Samudrayaan in Research Ship.

Sea glider .jpg

this is a sea glider for research purposes .

Shallow water ROV developed for CMLRE.jpg

Shallow water ROV.jpg


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Jul 15, 2018
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Pillar Remotely Operating Vehicle.

Underwater images captured from Bay of Bengal search site at 66 m depth PROVe.jpg

Underwater image from PROVe.

Deep Water Ambient Noise System.jpg

Deep Water ambient noise system.

Integrated Inertial Navigation System .jpg

Integrated Inertial Navigation System for Samudrayaan . This helps in traversing through Underwater.

Schematic of Life support system sensor network .jpg

Diagram of life support sensor network.
Apr 29, 2015
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Deep ocean mission: NIOT’s crawler set to go 6 km deep next month
Budget allocation of ₹4,000 crore comes as big boost for the mission.
The government’s announcement of the long-planned Deep Ocean Mission with allocation of Rs 4,000 crore for five years, has buoyed the programs of India’s ocean research organisations.
The Director of the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, Dr G Ananda Ramadass, feels that up till now, activities of the government-owned research institute were on project-mode, but now they will be on a Mission-mode. This means, working towards targets, both in terms of objectives and timelines.
Next month, NIOT is sending a home-made ‘crawler’ 6 km down into the Indian ocean, to see how it works.
“It is for a locomotion test,” Ramadass told BusinessLine.
When the machine is lowered to the floor, scientists onboard a ship above will see how it moves on the extremely soft, greasy ocean bed.
The machine moves on tracks, like a battle tank, but has buoys that keep pulling it up, so that it doesn’t get mired in the soft sands. The idea is to master ‘driving’ the vehicle on the ocean floor.
When scientists learn how to do this, they will be ready to onboard a spherical, 80mm-thick-walled, titanium capsule that can seat three people. At 6 km down, the capsule is crushed from all sides by the waters; it would feel a pressure of 600 bars, or, 600 times the atmospheric pressure that we feel on our bodies here.
The capsule is the ocean equivalent of the ‘crew module’ of space mission, Gaganyaan. It is informally the ‘samudrayaan’, and can detached from the crawler and nose around the ocean depths.
While the capsule is being developed in collaboration with ISRO, a mock version of it made of steel is being readied, to test many other subsystems such as power sources, life support systems, oxygen generator, carbon dioxide scrubber, connecters, cables, and thrusters. This clone will be downed to about 500 meters sometime later this year, in order to test the equipment.
India (like the US, Russia and China) is interested in the deep oceans because the ocean beds are littered with easy pickings of polymetallic nodules, the potato-like clumps that contain a variety of metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese.
NCPOR to hire AUVs
Meanwhile, another government body the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), headquartered in Goa, will also dive deep into the oceans.
M Ravichandran, Director, NCPOR, told BusinessLine that the Centre would hire “a swarm of AUV (autonomous underwater vehicles)” and send them down 4 km in another area of Indian ocean, east of Madagascar, to check out marine life and minerals hydrothermal vents— openings in the ocean floor out of which hot, mineral-rich water flows. Looking for these vents is like trying to find a needle in the ocean, Ravichandran said.
The International Seabed Authority, the Jamaica-based UN body, has permitted India to explore in an area of 10,000 sq km. NCPOR has identified a 100 sq km area here as being rich in hydrothermal vents.
The vent regions are rich in very unique life forms, that make their food from hydrogen sulphide—there is no sunlight there for photosynthesis, which sets-off the food cycle.
While there, NCPOR will also look for minerals.

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