Sand and yet more sand

Well the sun has not quite set on our little expedition just yet but we are getting close to the end. Today was the last full day for coring and one on which we were readjusting our hopes for this site based on the disappearance of the crystalline basement we were expecting.

All good things come to an end

We are heading the last part of the 349 Expedition, just 4 days left!. It seems that the South China Sea had a very last surprise for us; more than 200 meters of sediments and sedimentary rocks coming up in the cores that we expected to be basalts, according to the seismic profiles.

Missing basement

Today was a classic one for ocean drilling science. At this site we had used geophysics to determine that there would be igneous or some other hard rock close below the seafloor, mantled perhaps by 10 or 20 m of soft recent sediment.

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.

Northeast winds

We are now underway towards our last site and battling into the teeth of an extremely strong wind coming in from the northeast. While this is hardly a wild storm it is however making our going slow.

Stormy weather

I woke this morning to the rocking and creaking of the ship which told me that the weather had again changed and that we were now experiencing rough sea conditions. The last time this happened was several weeks ago when we had to abandon drilling at Site U1432.

Back into basement

My photo today shows the results of our drilling over the last half day in our attempts to get some more volcanic rocks close to the old seafloor spreading center in the southwestern South China Sea.

Age arguments

We are now drilling in our new location, Site U1434, just north of our last drill site and the scientific party are mostly writing their reports and waiting for the new material to arrive.

Excellent Logging

Our final phase of activities at this site was to run a suite of downhole geophysical logs and they have proven to be particularly successful because of the very good condition of the hole. Because we did not encounter any sand in this particular location and the borehole was less susceptible to caving in which made for very good conditions in which to operate downhole logs.

Igneous Sampling

Today was a day for catching up by most of the people who work in the core processing end of our operation, especially as it will not be long until we are moving again to our next drilling location even if that is not very far away.

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