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


Perhaps laying casing is not as dull as I was saying in an earlier post when I was noting that this particular stage of our operations here on the Joides Resolution drilling ship was rather slow, as we have been laying casing into sediments and rock in order to create a stable borehole for deep penetration.

Boy did things come to a screeching halt last night! We were having difficulty advancing the bit yesterday – essentially we were not advancing at all, and after about 5 hours of failure to advance the drilling engineers decided that we may have trouble with the drill bit itself, so they recommended pulling the bit out for inspection. When this tri-comb drill bit – a massive tool – returned to deck we could see there was big trouble for us in that hole. The drill bit was completely destroyed – two of the three rotary combs were gone and various other pieces were MIA as well (see picture where the remains of this one, and what it is supposed to look like, are shown).

The missing pieces remain in the hole. Which made for an interesting quandary as to what to do next – fish out the pieces in the hole or go start a new hole? We decided on the latter, and are presently setting up to start this hole again at a slightly offset location. We also will not be able to install as many layers of casing or as deep of casing as we had planned, in the interest of time. But we all think the plan is sound and we learned a lot about what the crust is like in this region, which will help guide this next operation.

We are back on the roller coaster ride! Not to misconstrue and make it sound like we are having unusually bad luck; it turns out that CORKing legs are just like this – the highs are pretty darn high and the lows can be… quite low. And everything is happening in rapid succession, we have to remain on our feet at all times to meet the next set of challenges. As there will surely be more. CORKing research is not for the faint of heart. On an earlier blog I likened our research to that which is conducted in space – true science and technology engineering missions. Perhaps now you are getting some flavor for where this analogy derives.