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The 31st Underwater Mining Institute Conference
October 31 - November 3, 2001
Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Hilo, Island of Hawai`i

Pu'u o'o fissure, Kilauea, Hawaii


The Focus

This year a major focus for presentation and discussion is on seabed hydrothermal deposits and their associated ecosystems. During the past several years, commercial exploration for hydrothermal sulfide deposits has been undertaken in the Territorial Waters of Papua New Guinea, while scientific interest has led to discoveries of promising seabed deposits worldwide and significant new insights into the processes that form this major class of ore-forming minerals. During the same period, studies of the biology and biochemistry of the hydrothermal vent communities have led to extensive commercial interest in the potential contributions that these ecosystems hold for biotechnology. The following questions naturally arise:
  • How can commercial interests develop these widely disparate resource types in an efficient, integrated manner?
  • What are the technical and political conflicts between mining the sulfide minerals and exploiting the hydrothermal vent community genotypes?
  • How can exploration for sulfide mineral deposits benefit extremeophile bioprospecting, and vice versa?
  • What, if any, government controls are appropriate at this early stage of development?
The UMI provides perhaps the most appropriate setting to discuss these questions. The Institute has an established history of fostering multidisciplinary debate on complex issues related to seabed development, and its primary sponsor, the International Marine Minerals Society, owes no allegiance to any particular commercial, academic, or government body.

In addition to this primary focus, the UMI traditionally provides a venue for timely presentations on all aspects of marine minerals development and study. This year, unpublished scientific and engineering advances and environmental impact analysis related to ferromanganese crusts and nodules, placers, and other marine minerals will also be presented and discussed within the informal, comfortable structure that is the essence of the UMI.

The Institute

The UMI has drawn on the expertise of researchers, industry professionals, and environmental, resource, and policy managers worldwide to provide the latest information relevant to seabed minerals. Since the first UMI was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1970, the Institute's primary goal has remained constant--to encourage prudent and responsible development of marine mineral resources through technical presentations in venues that promote informal and free exchange.

The theme varies each year, as does the location and host. Proceedings are not published nor are recordings of the sessions permitted without prior permission from the contributors. Presentations are scrutinized to ensure that the content and interactions of the UMI remain stimulating and fresh. International participation (to date by more than 25 nations) is promoted and supported. This unique and multidisciplinary approach is attributed to the Institute's founder, the late J. Robert "Robby" Moore, whose vision and contributions have laid the groundwork for the continued success of the UMI far beyond the borders of Wisconsin.

The Venue

Hilo--the meeting sight of the UMI-- is one of the most beautiful small cities on earth. Its quaint ambience is cradled in pristine coastline, verdant mountains, and dramatic landscapes created by flowing lava. We will meet and lodge at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel located on Hilo Bay just minutes from the airport and town.

The UMI begins with an evening registration followed by two days of technical sessions, an evening banquet, and field tour. The banquet will be held at a 75-year old family-operated eatery unknown to most tourists that offers fresh fish grown in nearby fishponds. Simultaneous to the UMI session will be an optional tour for spouses and guests to visit lush gardens and waterfalls and the local museum. The final event is a geotechnical tour of select areas within the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

Hosts and Program Chair

Technical program assistance are provided by this year's UMI hosts Drs. James R. Hein, Senior Research Geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and President of the International Marine Minerals Society and Alexander Malahoff, Director of the Hawai'i Undersea Research Laboratory, University of Hawai'i. Charles L. Morgan, a former President of IMMS and longtime worker in the area of seabed minerals, has served as UMI Program Chair since 1994.
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