A new project has been announced to reduce the potential environmental impact of future mining by making exploration for deep-seafloor mineral deposits much more effective. ‘Project ULTRA’ has been funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), and will be led by Professor Bramley Murton at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).Deep-seafloor mineral deposits can provide vital new metals for emerging technologies, including those that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many deposits were formed by hot springs on the seafloor and the vast majority of these now lie under a blanket of marine sediment. The big question facing geologists is whether these buried mineral deposits still contain valuable metals – have the minerals dissolved since they formed thousands of years ago beneath the Earth’s crust, or become even more concentrated?‘Project ULTRA’ will address these questions using a robotic drilling rig to drill the deposits – this will also generate the first three dimensional image of the deposits, using scientific instruments on the surrounding seafloor to listen to vibrations from the drill as it bores through the seafloor. The boreholes will then be sealed and returned to a year later, when fluids will be tapped-off from the plugs to test for reactions deep inside the deposit, NOC explained.The rock core taken by the drill, and these fluid samples, will reveal the composition and structure of these types of mineral deposit, their sub-seafloor fluid pathways, alteration of the host rock, and the preservation processes of their ore minerals.By using this information to identify where the most valuable metals are located in the deposit, Project ULTRA will help ensure any future exploitation would be able to minimize the disturbance to the seafloor and its surrounding environment.This project forms part of the NOC’s ongoing research into seafloor resources and is a collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS), the Universities of Southampton, Cardiff and Leeds, Memorial University in Canada, as well as Oxford Museum, GEOMAR, Nautilus Minerals, VNIIOkeangeologia from Russia, and SMD.
MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health is looking over options after being forced from their home at Mohawk Square earlier this month due to a roof collapse caused by severe storms that rolled through the area.The department’s Immunization Clinic, STD/HIV Clinic, and public health nursing and home care aides staff are temporarily housed at the Community Health Center at 404 North Federal. The rest of the department is working out of a conference room at the Law Enforcement Center on the west side of Mason City.Health Department director Brian Hanft says they greatly appreciate being able to use the two locations, but they need to explore other options. “They’ve been very generous to let us use their space, but we’re in their space, and recognizing that they offered that in the short-term, you know whatever that timeline looks like, I think it’s just responsible of us to at least consider where we end up in the longer-term and try not to take advantage of what they’re giving us.”A definite timeline on when the Health Department might be able to move back into Mohawk Square has not been released, and Hanft says a lot of questions can be raised in finding a short-term solution to house the department under one roof, including in some vacant locations around the community. “I don’t want to stay in the Law Enforcement Center for six months, and I don’t know about the Community Health Center for six months. Again I think that’s a pretty big ask of those locations. We would need to then find something, even again if we set up in the McGregor building, I’m just using that (as an example) because it’s empty. It’s going to cost a couple thousand dollars a month to probably rent it, and we set up some cubicles, and least we have some space, and then we just pay for that over the next six months.”Hanft says the wise planning by the county to have all county-owned computer systems backed up at the Law Enforcement Center was a tremendous help in getting the department through this ordeal. “When you all of a sudden don’t have access to IT, with all of your computer systems were all backed up out at the Law Enforcement Center, and I just want to stress the importance of having that as far as continuity of operations planning. There’s an expense there, but it is tremendously helpful when you need it and it’s there.”Hanft and members of his staff discussed the situation with the County Board of Supervisors during a workshop session this morning, saying he wanted their input on what steps they’d like to see taken. “I just wanted to have at least some direction as to what you are thinking about, and I think we’re on the same page as far as going out and investing a lot of money in place that we have to update and then continue to pay rent on for the life of our lease agreement there doesn’t seem to make the most sense. So the idea then is finding a place temporarily that would get us by, until we either find a location that makes sense to build in and we go back in Mohawk Square if it’s safe and stay there until we come up with a longer-term solution.”Hanft and the supervisors agreed to gather more information in helping to make a better decision and discuss the situation further during another workshop next week. The item will also be discussed at the County Board of Health’s meeting this Friday afternoon. === One of the other displaced tenants of Mohawk Square has found a temporary home. The Mason City Housing Authority says they have relocated to Suite 506 at the Brick and Tile Building at 103 East State. They can still be reached at their old office phone number, 421-2711.