Do you remember when manganese nodules were going to be the next great gold rush? When a great new natural resource was going to be unleashed just as soon as someone figured out how to dredge them up from the incredibly deep ocean? Did you ever wonder if there might not be some in shallower water?
Well, guess what: The whole thing was a complete fabrication. The CIA wanted to recover a Soviet submarine that had gone down in very, very deep water in the Pacific, and they needed a cover story because they knew that there was no way they could build and deploy the highly specialized kind of ship required to recover something from such great depth without the Russians (who knew exactly where their submarine had gone down) figuring out that something was up.
So they enlisted Howard Hughes, the richest man in the world at the time and a notable nutcase, to pretend that he thought these manganese nodules, which just happened to exist only at great depths, were the next big thing. He built a large, specialized deep sea recovery ship, the Glomar Explorer, and sent it to find, um, um, manganese nodules, that's right, we're looking for manganese nodules.
They actually did find the Soviet submarine and were able to recover parts of it. Eventually people forgot about the manganese nodules.
If you don't believe me, read this report on the subject:
This particular nodule was recovered from 5100m of water in the central pacific by the MS Valdiva working for the Metallgesellschaft AG, Frankfurt am Main. I wonder if they thought they were going to get rich.
Source: eBay seller mitryrock
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 3 June, 2003