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

10-17-2011

We have made it to the half-way point of the cruise – it is officially “Hump Day”! Candy and cards are being distributed and there is a party planned for this evening in the lounge. Yeah! Somehow it both simultaneously feels like this expedition just started and like I have been here since the beginning of time. The thing about being out at sea, particularly on the Joides Resolution – where all your basic needs are taken care of such as meals and laundry – even down to having your bed made everyday – is that it effectively leaves the entire day from the time you wake up till you go to bed to work non-stop, if you feel so inclined. Most of us try to break up the day – using the exercise room, taking in some football or a movie, coffee breaks at 9am and 3pm. So the hump day celebration and party is similar though at a broader scale – here we break up the entire cruise with these festivities. It is a good time in our cruise for a hump day party as well, because things operationally are pretty slooooowwww. I can’t wait for the party – I’m hoping for dancing. Always entertaining on a moving ship…

During this slow time we are also catching up on a lot of writing for the cruise – reports reports reports! I must say that this is the least desirable part of my job as co-chief scientist – reading and editing all of the reports on every conceivable part of our program as we go along. It is pretty dry stuff for the most part, nothing like my normal “day job” writing that I do on research proposals or scientific papers, both of which I enjoy for the most part.

Operationally we are still laying the casing for our new hole – as I have noted previously we have three sets of casing to lay here which is why it is taking so long. One set at 20” that is “jetted in” to the seafloor (ram-rod style), another at 16” which is cemented at the basalt-sediment interface, and finally one set of 10 ¾” casing that will extend about 100 meters into the upper basalt to stabilize it. After that we will finally be coring. Right now we are working on getting the 16” casing into the hole. The casing got hung up on a ledge in the hole while trying to land it last night and we had to pull out and shorten the casing string. Sigh, there goes some of our banked “ahead of schedule” hours. As noted before also, this will be a deep hole as well – down to about 500 meters of basement, or ~550 meters sub-seafloor (we only have about 50 meters of sediment here). Most holes into basement that are drilled by the ocean drilling program for scientific research are not drilled this far – there are only a handful in existence throughout the worlds ocean. And it is technologically challenging and time consuming – reasons why is it is not done more often. This is the reason for us being super cautious about hole stability and all that casing – to make sure we have the best odds possible for achieving our goals.

Now it is time for my daily hour at the gym – working out while looking forward with anticipation towards the party tonite!