First cone, underreaming, more planning

Yesterday we installed a reentry cone on the seafloor (image above shows cone being assembled), with about 50 m of 20" diameter conductor casing below. This followed a jet-in test to verify how much casing we could get in by pumping, but without rotating. With the cone and casing in place, we tripped the pipe and picked up an underreamer, which goes through the cone and casing, then opens arms and drills a larger (!) hole below, down through the sediment and into basement. We have probably just about finished this hole now, and are preparing for a trip out, then will go back in with more casing (16" diameter this time), which we will cement into the upper volcanic oceanic crust.

We also had an enthusiastic discussion at an engineering meeting today, to figure out how we will deploy the CORK systems and instruments that will be installed inside them. It is a complex operation and I don’t think that any of us had a full sense of all the nuances and challenges involved. We went through each of the CORK systems in some detail and ended up the meeting with a charge for people to keep thinking about how to deal with some of the difficult parts (like how to "let go" of an instrument string in a gentle way, once we have it in the right place). These kinds of discussions are essential to difficult and unusual operations like those on Exp. 327. Fortunately, the ship is full of talented operations and engineering staff who are used to creative problem solving and are not easily discouraged. I am confident that we will sort out the best way to deploy our experimental systems.