March 7, 2006
Funded by the
National Science Foundation
Office of Polar Programs
Location: Latitude 64° 2' S, Longitude 54° 21' W
Air Temperature: .2°C
If it weren't for posting these journals each day, it would be hard to keep track of which day it is. I am nearly certain this is the second day in a row-but that can feel like a long time if your are on the edge of your seat for ~15 hours per day-that I have risen early with the anticipation of being about to bring core on deck. And, while on both days we have been poised to do just that, the prospect dimmed through the day. We got onto station (proposed "site 6") at 6 pm last night. We knew that the ice was far worse than we hoped to find, but the captain and the rest of the bridge crew allowed us to go ahead and try to drill the site. We held position until 2 pm today; at that point ice floes longer than the boat began to pack in around us. Even though the Palmercould cut through such ice while moving, there was no way that she could hold still in such conditions.
The drillers worked the entire time we were on site to run pipe and begin drilling. Since it was our first drill site, everything took a little extra time: the clump weight had to be lowered into the moonpool, the collars had to be put in order, the pipe had to be measured. After all that, the pipe hit the mudline around 1:40 pm. In the grand total of 20 minutes of drilling, the pipe fell into the sediment about 7 m without much resistance. A baggie of gravelly mud was retrieved. Now, the drillers are at work pulling all of that pipe-410 m plus 7 m-back onto the deck. We will leave this site before midnight and head back to proposed "site 4" to look for open water. There was ice there yesterday but a northerly wind has picked up and it might be pushing the ice back down into the Weddell Sea.
The anxiety of waiting is dissipated with the distraction of watching the drillers work. I enjoyed my early morning moments watching Danny and Shilo intent on their jobs-although I was a bit surprised to be told that I had joined them on the closed circuit TV. My distraction though cannot match that of last year and I thus hope, as we all do, that we won't have to leave another inchoate hole.
Despite the disappointment of leaving the site without a core, none of the time at this station was wasted. All parties on board were able to work out the kinks that come with the first dynamic positioning in ice of the year, the first drilling of the year, and even the first labeling of samples of the year. We might be drilling again in just a few hours if the ice allows. If not, we will work to conflate the different opinions about where to go next. We are readying the seismic gear just in case but I for one am not convinced it will be needed.
Best wishes, Julia
Drillers on deck.
Boulder on iceberg. Just a hint of the ice that confronts the boat along with the sediment that confronts the drill.
Do you have questions? Comments?