Today is the midpoint of the cruise. 29 days on site and 29 left until we return to Victoria, Canada. Time is really flying! We're still making good progress despite the slight delay due to cruddy borehole conditions. Knock on wood, no major issues yet. :)
The last 6 days just ran together into one drilling-cleaning-coring marathon. So far, we've reached 460 mbsf (meters below seafloor) and have retrieved 16 cores. We microbiologists have gotten quite a few samples with alteration materials along fractures and veins and we plan to get a few more out of the last few cores. The petrologists tell us that the cores have been really interesting (translation: cool but difficult to interpret). In short, they think we're in an upflow area where hot water is circulating up through this section bringing with it hydrothermal metal sulfides. We've hardly seen any carbonate in our samples indicating to us that we're in a higher temperature alteration area. Will be interesting to see the last few cores and to assemble the storyline for this borehole. A couple more days and we should be ready to log the hole (get data on the diameter with depth and other parameters down the hole) then do what we all came here to do...install the CORKs!
Speaking of CORKs, yesterday several of us got to paint them using epoxy paint (the same stuff they paint boats with). SO much fun! We strapped on our steel-toed boots, our hard hats and our safety glasses and went to town personalizing our CORKs. Pictures to come (don't have any on my camera so I gotta wait until some are posted on our shipboard server.)
Today is another fun-filled day. After the science party met for our daily discussion of the core samples, several of us watched the outreach team try out their home-made ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) in an inflatable pool on the sun deck. They even let us and some of the engineers drive! It took 4 days, lots of soldering, taping, drilling and wiring to get these little guys together. But they were totally worth it! The outreach team was able to pick up Lego rings from the floor of the pool and have ROV battles. Bejonty, one of the outreach officers, made a Lego man in a Lego raft and the other outreach officers had a blast sabotaging it, flipping it over and well...destroying it! Lego man underwent quite a few reconstructive surgeries only to be sabotaged over and over. We were all 5 again and it was such a blast!! Even Bubba, our Toolpusher took a break from the drill floor to revive his inner 5-year-old.
Here's a video of Leslie, our outreach coordinator, maneuvering an ROV in the pool:
Tonight, the science party has a "Back to the Eighties" dance party planned to celebrate Hump Day. Should be fun. Though, I think I will be a spectator/photographer for this one. :)
29 days left! Feels like yesterday we left Victoria (and forever ago at the same time.) We still have a lot of energy (and fresh veggies/fruit) so in the grand scheme of things, we are all doing great! The next few days we're going to be coring but after that, there will be more to report as we start putting together our microbial observatories, our OSMO pumps and the CORKs.
Hurray for Hump Day!!