Underway

We are now underway again heading towards our second drilling location, which is at the foot of the continental slope south of China. At the last site we were trying to find out how old the youngest seafloor spreading in the South China Sea was and in this place we are trying to find out when the seafloor spreading began, which is also central to testing the different tectonic models for the origin of this ocean basin. Our target is extremely deep here so we’re not having to core sediment all the way from the seafloor in the normal fashion as that would take too long. Instead we are going to drill for the first 800 m or so and then case the hole with steel in order to stabilize it. After that we will resume normal coring activities for the remaining 1 km of penetration to the igneous basement. Today however we are spending most of the time transiting and this was obvious from the moment I woke up this morning because the ship was moving around even more that it had during the high winds we had a few days ago. That and the fact that the thrusters which hold the ship in position during drilling made a rather loud whirring sound when they are being retracted before we can actually use the main propeller for rapid speed and since some of these sit directly next to all the sleeping cabins this was like an early alarm bell for us.