The ferromanganese precipitates existing in deep-sea waters of the Pacific consists of two types of deposits: (1) nodules mainly are distributed in pelagic basins beneath the CCD (Calcite Compensation Depth) where the rate of sedimentation is low; (2) polymetallic encrustations are formed on exposed seamount rocks where currents prevent normal sediment accumulation. Nodules, being formed in areas bordering the equatorial zone of high biological productivity, grow by two different processes: (A) early diagenetic growth by supply of metals and metal compounds from pore water and (B) hydrogenetic growth by supply of colloidal particles from near-bottom seawater. These processes lead to different kinds of oxide and different metal contents.
The diagenetic growth process takes place under oxidizing to suboxidizing conditions and is supplied by an ionic solution of Mn2+ and other divalent metal ions. The mobilization of Mn is caused by the decomposition of organic matter. The growth features of the early diagenetic nodules show alternating laminae of crystalline and amorphous material. These rhythmic sequences of different microlayers are explained by physico-chemical changes (variation of pH) in the microenvironment of the accreting nodule surface.
The hydrogenetic crust growth on seamounts leads to ferromanganese precipitates which are in particular rich in Co. The Co concentration is inversely related to the water depth. Co is positively correlated to Mn which can be derived from the oxygen minimum zone. Contrary to the diagenetic nodule growth, the crust accretion is also a colloidal precipitation process. In the water column below the oxygen minimum zone, a mixture of particles of Mn-Fe-oxyhydroxide and silicate accrete together on the surface of substratum rocks. Surface chemical mechanisms control the enrichment of Ni, Co, Pb, and other metals from the seawater; for Pr, a coprecipitation with MnO2 caused by a redox reaction is proposed. Distinct oceanographical and geological conditions enable or promote, respectively, the ferromanganese crust formation on seamounts.』
2. Early diagenetic accretion
2.1 Precipitation by supersaturation
2.2 Colloid chemical precipitation
2.3 Influence of kinetic effects
2.4 Diagenetic uptake of Co
3. Hydrogenetic accumulation
3.1 Metal supply and precipitation from the water column
3.2 Specific metal adsorptin