Should humans explore the deep ocean (1800meters or deeper) or is this the realm of AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles)?

It seems that such deep ocean exploration is best done by AUVs. They are easier to build, cheaper to maintain, less expensive service life, longer bottom times.

I'm curious how humans can best provide value to deep ocean exploration. That is to say, currently they seem like a liability, not an asset. How can we think differently to change this?

Deep ocean exploration could be scientific or minerals exploration. Either field tends to be dominated by AUVs and I'm struggling to find reasons for humans to be that deep, so can someone help answer what reasons we need humans that deep? What jobs are human-specific?

My first thought is that transit times are very great and surface ships are limited by weather. If there's a way to get humans closer to the site of interest then they can better maintain AUVs on site. But, this requires a substantial increase in bottom times from what currently exists. An increase by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude.

  • $\begingroup$ Somewhat sepculative and qualitative question. When I hear "deep sea" I think of the abyssal plains and not much to be had except spacedust and the distal end of a turbidite every now and then, maybe a volcanic flank collapse (how interesting). Are you thinking of something specific ? We are talking about 4-6km water column. $\endgroup$ – user22279 May 4 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Earthworm Thanks for the response, in technical terms deep sea seems to be agreed upon to be below 1800m. I'd qualify this as anything beyond the test depths of submarines, since submarines are the longest bottom-times we currently have. In terms of saturation diving I think the deepest has been 900meters or approximately 2700fsw (foot-seawater) on hydreliox-mix. I think 1000meters was achieved by an exosuit. With regards to this question, I'd say it's anything of economic interest that is below standard saturation dives (requiring ROV/special equipment). $\endgroup$ – IDNeon May 4 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Earthworm I meant to include a source for the 1800meters. I'll provide two. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_sea ------------------------- divediscover.whoi.edu/hot-topics/deepsea $\endgroup$ – IDNeon May 4 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ Where's the geoscience aspect ? Biodiversity ? Resources ? Tectonics ? I fear this will be closed for lack of clarity ... $\endgroup$ – user22279 May 4 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Earthworm I can edit the question, I think it was very character-limited unlike normal questions. So hence I really jammed it tight. It doesn't have to be economic-minded, but I think economy precedes science in most things. However, usually humans want direct involvement in science rather than remotely through ROVs, where as ROVs become more economically mindful. So we get this situation in Ocean Exploration where most of it is done by ROVs for resources. This question is meant to ask how do we grow the need for humans in Ocean Exploration to its max potential? $\endgroup$ – IDNeon May 4 at 22:26

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