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.

Sampling Party

Unfortunately not the sort of party that many of us would like to attend now that thoughts of the soft life in Hong Kong have receded.  We are sufficiently deep under the sea floor that core is basically hard rock, albeit sedimentary rock, this means a change in the way that we have to deal with it.

Volcanic sediments

Today may be a bit cloudy outside but this did not dampen our spirits as we were buoyed by news of the first cores back on the catwalk for a while plus the experience of eating outside on picnic tables for our first deck barbeque, marking our second weekend at sea. Everyone seemed to enjoy the novelty of sitting out in the bright sunshine and eating some rather good grilled meats and salad.

Back in Business

We are now back in the coring business after a rapid change of bit and re-drilling of the sediment column back to the depth at which everything collapsed on us a couple of days ago. Now we are using the rotary drill bit, which should be able to take us through to our final objective, around 500 m below where we left off.

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