What has impressed me from the beginning of this journey is the amount of cooperation involved with these operations. Yesterday we got to see the engineering feat of cementing a cork at the bottom of the ocean so that scientists can study the flow of hydrothermal fluid through the ocean’s crust. But that is not the beginning of the story, nor the end. The beginning of the story is more than a decade ago when these corks were invented to test properties of these bore holes that have been left from ocean drilling operations in the past.

As time went on, proposals were made to fund building and operating these devices. Then the corks were put into place years ago but were not holding the seal originally put in place. A proposal had to be crafted for this special trip, to try to get this extra thing done in a 2 week period as the ship moves from one port to another.

All of those invoved cooperation and collaboration between scientists, funding agencies and drilling operations. The threading of the pipe into the small hole at the floor of the ocean involved cooperation between the drilling deck and the dynamic positioning pilot (someone to steer and someone to drop pipe). Once this is complete, another cooperative expedition will take place to get scientists down to the sea floor in a submarine to download data that will have accummulated for a year or two (so if your internet connection is slow try to imagine having to actually wait a year or two to send a submarine down to the ocean floor to download a few megabytes of information…).

The cooperation even comes down to being respectful of each other on the ship, which can be a confining 2 months out to sea. Everyone on the ship has lives off of the ship – they miss their families and being on land and hobbies they can’t participate in on the ship. Tensions can get high but everyone tries their best to get along (like with dance parties … what a hoot!) so that we can all cooperate together and complete these marvelous tasks. We’re all in the same boat…

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