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Western Coastal and Marine Geology

U.S. Geological Survey
Circular 1286

Marine Mineral Resources of Pacific Islands—A Review of the Exclusive Economic Zones of Islands of U.S. Affiliation, Excluding the State of Hawaii

By James R. Hein, Brandie R. McIntyre, and David Z. Piper


underwater photograph of spires of mineralized rock
Active sulfide chimneys on the sea bottom

The United States Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was established in 1983 and comprises all marine areas within 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) of the nearest U.S. land. This vast area of 3.38 million square nautical miles (11.6 million square kilometers) is about 20 percent greater than the entire land area of the United States. The resource potential of the vast mineral deposits that occur within the U.S. EEZ is unknown, despite field studies that have taken place during the past 25 years. Since about 1975, information on marine mineral deposits has been obtained by numerous research cruises to the Pacific Ocean by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), equivalent government agencies in Germany, Canada, France, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, and by academic researchers from all of these nations. Although most of the cruises by other nations explored areas outside the U.S. EEZ, information gained from those studies can aid in the evaluation of the mineral potential in the U.S. EEZ. However, the global effort remains inadequate to allow for the quantitative evaluation of mineral resources contained within the EEZ of nations or within international regions of the oceans.

Download Circular 1286 as a 69-page PDF file (c1286.pdf; 25.7 MB)

For questions about the content of this report, contact James Hein

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Maintained by: Michael Diggles
Created: December 19, 2005
Last modified: July 29, 2008 (mfd)