Shrinking cups

One way that we can usefully employ the time installing casing is to prepare something rather unusual and unique which is associated with deep-sea research and that is the shrinking of polystyrene cups.


Casing is now ongoing in Hole U1432B again, now that the seas are more calm, and despite the fact that there is still a pretty stiff breeze outside. Using the VIT (vibration isolated transport) camera (see photo below), which is held on a frame that slides up and down on the pipe the drillers are able to position the drill bit immediately above the cone, as you can see in the lead photo.

Surprise! Core on Deck

Today was a day of renewed activity as we had core back on deck for the first time in while, if not for a very good reason. Fortunately it looks like the swells and the wind are abating and that we should be able to soon renew our efforts to deepen the cased hole to the depth where coring is supposed to have started.

Waiting on weather

Having many years ago been on cruises in the North Atlantic, in some pretty awful weather offshore Greenland in particular, it never occurred to me that now that I am working in the South China Sea that we would ever have to experience any significant weather problems, but this just shows how fickle marine geology can really turn out to be.

More rough weather

Today has been another day of steady progress is setting the casing, with continued activity on the drill floor and more report writing inside the lab stack.

Windy day

Our wait for the return of core began in earnest today as the casing started to be hung from the newly installed re-entry cone. The first to go is the 20” diameter pipe through which the progressively smaller and smaller “stands” of casing are fed and then cemented into place, to form the string of metal tubing that will line the upper part of the hole.

Cone away!

It’s has been an amazingly quiet day for the science party in the lab stack and indeed for the water outside which is beginning to resemble a village mill pond by being so flat and peaceful.


Nous nous préparons pour le prochain forage qui sera très profond. Le haut du forage sera protégé par des tubes d’acier et nous ne récupérerons des carottes qu’à partir de 900m de profondeur sous le fond de la mer.

New Site Preparations

Now we are at our new drilling site preparations have begun for the deep drilling we will attempt here, around 1900 m below the seafloor. Today tests were conducted to determine the stiffness of the seafloor, which will have to bear the weight of the re-entry cone (see photo) that in turn is the device from which the casing that protects the top of the hole will be hung.


We are now underway again heading towards our second drilling location, which is at the foot of the continental slope south of China.

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