We are now almost half way to basement here at Site U1431 and the hole is fighting us a little as we make progress. Recovery, the proportion of sediment that is actually brought back to the surface compared to how much the drill advances, has fallen away and we are in a lean period. Experience suggests however, that this is a passing phase that can be caused by number of things.
Some sediment, like sand, is just hard to recover and data can still be gained over such intervals from downhole logging, so all is not lost by any means. As the drill advances each new core will provide its own surprises. In the meantime the teams in the core lab have lots of material sitting around waiting in racks to be sampled (see photo of Guo-Liang Zhang, Xin Su and Rick Colwell at work) and described so there is no rest for the science teams, even for disappointed Denver Bronco fans lamenting their pasting in the Super Bowl yesterday, beamed on board thanks to the miracles of modern technology. To further cheer us up this morning we were treated to a presentation by Tony Koppers describing the analytical problems of dating the basalts we expect at the bottom of the hole when we finally get there. The hard work will not stop when the ship reaches the dock in Keelung but the omens for good results are still excellent.