No pain no gain

Deep-sea coring is not a simple oceanographic operation by any means. The long core itself is about 25 thousand pounds, and can generate a load of more than 60 thousand pounds when it’s being recovered from the mud. Such a difficult operation requires high-tech hydraulics and electronics, and a team of experts specialized in very specific tasks ready to troubleshoot any problem at any time. During the last 24 hours we’ve been trying to core on the edge of the continental platform without much success. The release mechanism that drops the core into the sediments has not been working. This system is triggered by an acoustic signal that travels from the ship down the water column and tells the release to ‘let go’ the core when it is a few meters above the ocean floor, so it can penetrate deep enough into the mud. This issue has caused three failed deployments, and considering that coring at 3,200 m takes about 4-5 hours it’s pretty frustrating recovering a spotless barrel filled just with seawater. Apparently the release mechanism is being affected by high pressure, which at 3,200 m is more than 310 atm. The release system has been replaced and the long core is now ready for a new deployment. But just now we heard that the winch controller is not working, so stay tuned.

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One Response to “No pain no gain”

  1. Tiffy Says:

    Wow, that sounds really tough to do. I hope ths operation becomes a success, if it is not already complete.

    Funny pictures though! Made me grin.

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