>> Thousands of meters under the Norwegian Sea, scientists use robots to probe a site that could be rich in treasure. Not a sunken gold hoard but minerals that could be worth a fortune. These rocks, thought to be rich in so-called rare earths, they're crucial to a host of modern technology such as smartphones, radars, and magnets.
China currently produces the vast majority of the world's supply. This mission might open the way to change that, but it won't be an easy place to go mining.>> Really, very tough environment, very acidic, a lot of chemicals, dark. And we use a ROV, that we call a remotely operated vehicle, it's kind of a robot with two arms.
And we dive to 2,000 to 2,500 meters, where everything is black.>> Down here, the Earth's crust is continually renewed, underwater volcanoes constantly spewing molten material. No one is sure exactly what resources might lie in wait.>> Sea floor on Earth is, for the most part, unknown at all.
And it's totally fair to say that we kind of know much more about the surface of the Moon and Mars than we know about our own planet.>> Any mining might alarm environmentalists. The site has a unique array of flora and fauna. Now the team of scientists plan to use submarines and robots to explore the ecosystems.
And it'll be a long time before anyone starts digging for minerals.