Core on the floor!

Greetings from the JR!

This is gonna be a bumper post, as a lot has happened in the last couple of days. Hold on to your hats…

So, it’s 1.30 am and I just got off my 12 noon-12 midnight shift. Today was a mixture of exhausting and awesome as…. we finally got core! And what a beauty she is

first core

😀 😀 😀

So, to start from the beginning:

We are currently 285 nautical miles from the nearest land – the northern tip of Aceh, Indonesia – at our first coring site, called “U1443”.

Indian Ocean map2

We are above the so called “90E Ridge”, which, as you might guess, sits at a longitude of about 90E. A well named ridge, I think you’ll agree. It is currently sitting some 2900 m below us, under a lot of seawater, so it requires a whole heck of pipe for us to reach even the seafloor, let along deep into the sediment pile as we’re aiming to do.

Here are some of the roughnecks moving the pipe into position a few days ago (L) and a view from below the derrick (R):

drilling pipe 1                                   derrick1

The pipe is lifted up by the derrick and then lowered down through the “moonpool” (more about that another time) and into the ocean. Piece by piece the pipe is lowered down until it hits the seafloor and we can start drilling.

Now, the kind of rocks we’re trying to get a hold of, actually aren’t rocks at all.. they’re mud. Or “ooze” as we like to call them in the trade. Now if you try and drill ooze using a hardcore rotary drill you’re just going to end up with a whole lot of slurry and not the nicely preserved core we’re looking for. So we use a hydraulic piston called an “APC”, which fires a pipe into the ooze with a huge amount of force. Imagine pushing a straw into some mud (but like, really really fast) and all the mud going up inside the straw in a nice tube shape. It’s just like that.

Here’s our Operations Superintendent (head-honcho-of-drilling) Kevin explaining the different bits to us (the APC is the shiny one on the left):

kevin on catwalk with bits

So cut a long, and really rather technologically-wonderful, story short, at about 6pm yesterday (after about 12 hours of hitches with the equipment induced by a freak lightening strike last week!) we finally succeeded in getting our first core on the deck.

Here’s the techs bringing the first core of Expedition 353 up onto the catwalk… and some scientists struggling to capture the full range of emotions they are feeling right now.

Core on the floor1              Confusion

And so ensued 24+ hours of unrelenting work!

Once the cores start to be recovered they come up fast and furious, and the real work (for the scientists anyway) begins… but I’ll leave that for the next post.

In the meantime, I leave you with Team-Sedimentology and our geeky excitement over the first core on deck.

first core team sedimentology


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