Follow Dr. Katrina Edwards, as she explores the microbial life at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean


After fleeing the scene here at North Pond to escape the path of tropical storm Fillipe, we arrived back on site yesterday around noon to begin operations anew for our 2nd CORK deployment. We actually didn’t feel much of the effects from Fillipe, just a bit of wind and rain – I was a bit worried that the rocking boat would renew my seasickness but this did not happen.

Our first order of operations has been to install what is called a reentry cone. This is basically a huge funnel that is installed at the seafloor that guides drilling, reentry, and CORK observatory operations. A lot of times they are painted white with big conical stripes like a bulls eye – which is essentially what this is meant to be – but ours here was plain black. The reentry cone went in last night through the moon pool and it has been tripping to the seafloor overnight. Now, they are spudding (= inserting) steel casing (what keeps the hole from collapsing) and the reentry cone into the seafloor.

Lots more casing will go in through sediments over the next couple of days, and then we will be trying to create a good seal between the sediments, basaltic basement rock, and steel casing, which will stabilize the hole for coring and installation of the observatory. So, rather slow days for a bit but all with the purpose of doing some really important work for the next CORK.

Meanwhile we are back to endless meetings – I mean awesome scientific meetings – and watching and waiting. I personally prefer spending my time on the rig floor watching the drillers in action. It is simply amazing to watch them handle the pipe and operate on the rig floor. They hardly say a word to one another as they work yet are in constant coordinated motion. It’s like watching a well practiced ballet (though I don’t think they would appreciate the comparison).

We have already had our 4th birthday on the ship among the scientific and technical staff. Yesterday was Paul Campion’s birthday, and we have also celebrated the birthdays of the Wolfgang Bach (co-Chief Scientist), Beth Orcutt, and Steve Midgley. It is rare to go to sea and not have any birthdays to celebrate, but this seems like an unusually high number – the chocolate cakes are starting to feel routine. Maybe vanilla next time?