|Week #02 [8/13-8/19]
|Operation Superintendent Ikuo Sawada (CDEX/JAMSTEC) and Operation Manager Bjorn Hansson (SeaDrill) smile as the first core of this expedition is brought on deck.
Dr. Daniel Curewitz, CDEX Staff Scientist reports: The second week of the Shimokita Riser Drilling Shakedown cruise had the science crew, lab teams, and visitors on the edge of our seats, waiting for events to unfold. The early part of the week was a chance for further laboratory setup, core handling training and core processing discussion. Additional education and exploration of the vessel and the vessel’s intricate and integrated positioning, drilling, and mechanical/hydraulic systems were a part of daily conversation over meals and coffee, as we observed ongoing system tests and operational “dry runs” and waited for repairs and maintenance of equipment that needed attention.
Then, after talking, training, discussing, and waiting, events started coming fast and furious. Everything came together at once, and suddenly there was hardly time to breathe.
The first core of this expedition came on deck at about 3:00 pm on Friday the 18th of August. This core was taken from the surface of the ocean floor of pilot hole C, and the operation was captured on video by the ROV used by the Chikyu. This core captured the actual boundary between the ocean and the sea bottom and is very important to determine the real depth of cores taken down the borehole.
In the middle of the first coring operation and the first core processing operation, there was a crew change that involved switching at least 15 people from the Chikyu, and taking a new crew of scientists, drillers, and technicians on board.
After the crew change, another core came on deck, and was accompanied by the news that the coring system mounted on the drill pipe, called the Bottom Hole Assembly or BHA, needed to be reconfigured. After a short wait (a wait which felt like years to the excited crew), we started coring again.
And we have not stopped since that time. For the last 36 hours, we have been taking cores continuously at a rate of about 1 core every hour. The drillers and rig floor crew are learning the art of coring at an amazing rate. The lab technicians have become smooth and quick at core processing on the Lab Roof Deck, and the operations in the Core Processing Laboratory have been running like clockwork, generating a massive volume and wide variety of samples, data, images, and new ideas.
These data will be used for research on the cutting edge of many disciplines from geology to biology to climatology, and these samples will be used for technical work – evaluating the performance of the equipment, providing quality control and quality assurance benchmarks, providing a critically important hands-on experience for the entire crew, from the drillers whose expertise is essential to collect and retrieve the samples in good condition to the lab technicians who get the cores from drill floor to laboratory in rapid and orderly fashion, marking, recording, registering and keeping track of the samples and the database where these important pieces of information are stored, all the way to the scientists who will finally analyze and theorize about the data that will be extracted from the samples.
It’s been an exciting week.
Week #03 [8/20-8/26]