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3 September, 2004

Sunshine on the Ice and Drilling Frustrations

The good news weather-wise here is that we are finally getting some sunlight during the daytime hours. Most often this sun appears late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. It is so nice to see the blue sky instead of the clouds and fog. The sunlight adds new dimensions and definition to the icy "waterscape" around us and continually presents new opportunities for photographs. At the same time the icebreaker Oden is constantly on the move, changing direction while breaking ice away from the Vidar Viking. Standing in one place on the deck, the scene in front of you is constantly shifting so new photo opportunities present themselves over and over again.

As for the drilling operation, on September 1st we reached the continental rock beneath the sediments we have been sampling. The goal was to drill down to this "basement"; it appears that the depth of this margin is about 410 meters below the seafloor.

The next day, after reaching the basement there was an attempt to "log" the drill hole. In this operation two instruments are lowered one at a time on an electrical-mechanical cable to the bottom depth. As each logging tool is slowly raised to the surface, it gathers data such as soil porosity, natural radioactivity, density, and sound velocity and transmits that data to the surface. Unfortunately this turned out to be a frustrating task as each time the logging tool was lowered it got hung up in the drill bit and could not pass through. After several attempts to fix the problem it was decide to stop the logging process.

The problem turned out to be a piece of rock, presumably from the basement bedrock, that was jammed into the drill bit. Very early this morning the rock was removed and the operation went forward. Now the drilling continues in a new hole not far from this last one. The object now is to gather sediment cores from the sections that were not fully recovered before. In this way a more continuous sediment sequence can be obtained. At the same time they are collecting missing segments of the sediments, they will use a temperature probe to track the change in sediment temperature with depth.

The sediments gathered and analyzed already have been dated to approximately 80 million years ago, to the Cretaceous period, the time before the dinosaur extinction. Amazing, amazing!

The Sovetskiy Soyez with sun and fog.

On the Oden deck with a summer sun halo behind me

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