Touch down!

A much better day on the JOIDES Resolution today and indeed a banner day because we have achieved one of our major stated objectives by finally reaching the basaltic basement at Site U1433. This will allow us to date the timing of eruption in the SW South China Sea and allow a proper comparison with the east that we drilled back at the start of February, although the age may take some time to work out depending on the fossils in the overlying sediments, which were looking a bit sad in some cases and may take some careful combing through to be sure. Nonetheless, there was an almost audible sigh of relief in the lab when we found that the reason the drilling had slowed up was the recovery of basalts, which is what we had been hoping for but as we have learnt before here appearances can be deceiving in the world of scientific drilling. The petrologists in particular have been in buoyant mood as they have not seen any igneous rocks for some time now but are faced with the prospect of lots of lovely samples here now. Happy days are here again and none too soon, as we have only two weeks now before we reach the dock in Keelung.