We are engaged in a variety of research on Earth's resources, environment, and history. Here are just a few of the exciting projects we are currently working on.
Rare earth elements and yttrium (REY) are indispensable metals for the high-tech products that underpin modern society. In 2011, we discovered a completely new type of seafloor mineral resource called "REY-rich mud". Furthermore, we found the world's highest-grade REY-rich mud within the Exclusive Economic Zone around Minamitorishima Island, the easternmost island of Japan. The discovery of this new REY resource, for which global demand is expected to continue to increase, has attracted a great deal of attention around the world.
We have established the “Consortium for Promotion of REY-rich mud Development” to realize development of this seafloor mineral resource for the first time in human history. At present, more than 30 companies and organizations from a wide variety of industries, universities, research institutes, and government agencies in Japan are participating in this project to overcome the various engineering challenges to successfully developing this resource.
We are also vigorously studying the formation of onshore mineral deposits (e.g., gold deposits) using highly advanced analytical equipment, including conducting joint research with overseas institutions. The Japanese Islands, which are located at a convergent boundary of Earth’s tectonic plates, where complex geological processes associated with the subduction of tectonic plates provide favorable conditions for the formation of rich mineral deposits, are one of the most important targets for our research. We welcome new collaborative research proposals on various mineral deposits around the world.
Modern human society is founded on the history of billions of years on planet Earth. To reveal the causes and effects between Earth’s resources and environments, both teachers and students in our laboratory have gone on field surveys of land deposits and research cruises (sometimes to the seabed using the research vessel SHINKAI 6500). The most important goal of our research is to elucidate the mechanisms and history of our planet and to apply this knowledge to make our future society more prosperous and sustainable.