Titanium is a grayish metal that is stronger than aluminum, lighter than steel and more resistant to corrosion than stainless steel.

*Uses: Widely used in the aerospace industry and in the chemical industry, where protection against corrosion is needed. Titanium dioxide, a version of the metal, is also used for pigments in paints and other coatings.

*Sources: Principal raw materials are ilmenite, rutile and titanium slag. Rutile is considered the most desirable because it is the least costly to process, but it is also the most scarce.

*Form: The ilmenite found off the coast of Virginia and Georgia is in particles the size of grains of sand or pebbles. The ore is mixed with sand, which must be scooped up or sucked up by miners.

*Where found: Titanium has been mined in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, but the country imports about 60 percent of its ilmenite ore and almost all of its rutile.

The closing of a mine in Sierra Leone in 1971 reduced world production of rutile by nearly 10 percent, leaving Australia as the only major producer of rutile in the world. Timetable:

*Further studies are needed to determine the feasibility of mining the offshore deposits. The Interior Department says it could take years to begin leasing the offshore lands. -- Sandra Sugawara