Arriving at the borehole siteApril 4, 2012
This morning at 8 am, after 41 hours of transit, we arrived at the location of our first borehole. I was able to track our route with a hand-held GPS from the port at Shimizu to our current location at JFAST 3, located about 250 km east of Sendai. It was nice to be able to watch our progress on the GPS map. We had little way of knowing our position otherwise because we were far from shore and could only see the ocean for miles.
Map of our route from Shimizu to the borehole site.
This is my first time at sea, and I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of sea sickness. For the first day, the motion of the boat was so slight that I had a hard time discerning weather or not it was even real. It's a very odd effect because you have no stationary reference frame inside the boat. It kind of feels like you are in a flight simulator at an amusement park. Your body feels the change in acceleration with every wave, but because everything in the room is moving with you, your mind does not know how to process the motion. It can be very disorienting until you get used to it, and I have stumbled off my feet a couple of times in big waves. It is actually is much easier to handle when you are out on deck or looking out of a window and can see the horizon.
Unfortunately, some bad weather has moved in today and we cannot start operations until the waves calm down. As of this afternoon there were swells of ~5m, and it is likely that they will be up to 10-15m by night. Already the boat is rocking with quite a fervor, and the drilling derrick (tower) is making an eerie, grinding, metallic noise as it compensates for the ship's movement. Luckily, we've had two days to get somewhat acclimatized to the constant motion. In addition, the Chikyu is a very large boat, and is quite stable in comparison to smaller vessels. But I think we will all find out tonight just how good our "sea legs" are.
This computer monitors the pitch and roll of the ship.
As we prepare to begin drilling operations, the scientists on board have been taking part in many discussions about the project, how we want to position the boreholes, and what data we can use to definitively locate the fault zone. In addition to scientific discussions, we were able to get a tour of the drilling operations portions of the ship. The engineers, drillers, and mechanics have tough jobs and it is because of their work that we can even hope to be able to examine data from this fault zone. It was great to get to see their work stations and thank them for their efforts.
Members of the science party get a tour of the drilling operations.