The Jiaolong, a manned submersible dove into the South Indian Ocean this earlier this week in search for various valuable metals. The Jiaolong is expected to make several dives into the deep abyss in order to extract different deposits which have left back elements such as cooper, silver, and gold.

According to official media, “Hydrothermal sulfide is a kind of sea-bed deposit containing copper, zinc and precious metals such as gold and silver. Those metals formed sulfides after chemical reactions and came to rest in the seabed in chimney vents.” Until recent official approval, no submersible was able to dive into the abyss of the India Ocean due to protection laws. China has secured all the necessary contracts and permits to move forward with the mission according to NDTV, an Indian news publication. They obtained these contracts way back in 2012 after China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) discovered poly metallic deposits in the ocean.

Although, even though the approval took years before it went through successfully, China had locked up a fifteen year agreement with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to be the only nation to dive in the Southwest Indian Ocean. Having this fifteen year time period is not only beneficial for China since they will have first selection on the deposits on the sea bed, they will also be able to train and physically dive with novice explorers. According to Yu Hongjun, chief commander of the mission, “Jiaolong for the first time also took the second batch of pilot trainees in the diving, which was intended to enable the trainees to learn some skills of submersible operation in active hydrothermal vent and collect samples of hydrothermal fluid, sulfide, rocks, sediment and water.”

The scientists working with the Jiaolong dives have been able to pinpoint various locations where scientists are able to see ‘active hydrothermal vent and polymetallic sulfide in seabed‘. The Jiaolong is named after a mythical dragon since it is diving into depths unknown. The Jiaolong has already dove depths of over 7,000 meters back in 2012.

For more information about the Jiaolong expedition, please visit NDTV‘s article on the subject. And for more information on oceanic expeditions visit