Back on site

This afternoon we finally arrived at our last drill site, U1435, where we just have three precious days to try and sample igneous rocks close to the continent ocean transition as a final hurrah at the end of our cruise. The sediment cover is extremely thin here, only about 20 m thick at best, which makes drilling a deep hole very difficult because the sediment is usually used to stabilize the bottom hole assembly, the heavy pieces of drill collar at the bottom drilling string before the hard task of drilling deep into tough basement rock is undertaken. In this place however we do not have this advantage and so the drilling will be technically complicated. We are at least happy that the high winds have been reducing and the large swells that made life very difficult for everyone and indeed rather nauseous for several people have abated so that life has returned to a more normal rhythm. It is still rather grey and windy outside and compared to the southern part of the sea the air seems colder up here closer to the Chinese coast but perhaps tomorrow will bring better weather and even more stable conditions. In the meantime we are beginning to think about packing things up and taking our final samples as well as cleaning the ship up to hand over to the next crew. That is not to say that the normal routines of life do not continue and in this picture I show a birthday celebration in the galley for Niki Bilsley (far right), our chemistry technician, joined from right to left by Kevin Wertz, Chieh Peng, Tim Fulton, Gemma Maxwell and Ty Cobb.