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.

Logging the hole

Today has been a day of quiet in most of the labs with scientists trying to finish up their reports before the work starts at the next site and they have generally not been dealing with the cored material itself.

End of the site

We have now come to the bottom of our hole and are getting ready to undertake downhole geophysical operations. Time and the quality of our drilling bit has now run out and we have to complete our operations at this site before moving on to our deep drilling site closer to the Chinese coast.

Not so fast!

Well it may be Valentine’s Day elsewhere but in the South China Sea the postman is a little slow delivering and since the scientists at least are all away from home (some members of crew are partners/spouses since they spend six months a year together out here) there is little romance in the air.


We finally seem to have made it to the basaltic crust that we believe to underlie the deep parts of the South China Sea. After almost a kilometer of sediment drilling and two weeks at sea we are now coring through the crust that forms the centerpiece of the cruise.

Light at the end of the tunnel

We are not there yet but there was a buzz around the ship this morning that we might be approaching our drilling targets in the seafloor igneous crust that underlies the approximately 980 m of sediment that we have been drilling through since leaves Hong Kong.

Volcanic Breccias and Microfossils

As we get lower and lower in the section and closer and closer to our basement target the cores are more frequently filled with volcanic materials, effectively redeposited volcanic ashes that have cascaded downhill into the little basin we are drilling in.

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