When I woke up this morning I was just in time to witness the deployment of the beacon (see photo) to mark our first drill site. We are at 63° 50.48’S, 138º 49.40’E in 3773 m of water. The beacon is a very important piece of equipment because it plays a role in keeping the ship on site. An automated dynamic positioning system drives a series of thrusters that can move the ship sideways, backward and ahead. The beacon will descend to the sea floor, produce a signal, which is received by the ship. If the ship drifts too far off the site the dynamic positioning will respond and thrusters will automatically turn on to move the ship back into position.
During the deployment of the beacon the drillers were already busy putting together the bottom-hole-assembly (BHA-see the blog a few days ago). A lot of weight was added to the BHA to keep the drill string straight in the deep water that we are in. We are going to start with advanced (hydraulic) piston coring (APC) to refusal and will then continue with the extended core barrel (XCB) in the more compacted sediments at depth beneath the sea floor. The drillers are currently tripping pipe, which can take a while in deep water. They first have to give out 3773 m of pipe to reach the sea floor!
Below are some movies illustrating the drilling preparation activities. If all is well we will have some core tomorrow! It will mean we cannot post to our blogs so much, but I will try to post as much as I can.