Ready for First Core Ever from Wilkes Land
Temperature +1C, wind 15 kts, 2 meter swells, and at least 100 people are up and about.
ABOARD THE JOIDES RESOLUTION, OFF THE COAST OF WILKES LAND, ANTARCTICA– Finally, after 11 days of transit, we are spudding into our first drill site off the coast of Antarctica. It’s 3AM and we have just finished putting nearly 4 km of drill pipe together and hanging it from the derrick in the photo. The pipe is suspended only 5 meters above the seabed. We are getting ready to retrieve the first section of a sediment core ever taken from of this site, Wilkes Land!
The whole ship is abuzz with excitement. Everyone is awake to see what we will get. We will drill up to 1400 meters below the seafloor here over the next 18 days. Will we get back to sediments deposited when Antarctica was lush and green? It seems likely at this point, but first we will examine the age and makeup of the sediments right at the seabed. They should reflect the current glacial nature of Antarctica and maybe even tell us about changes in Antarctica in the recent past, the past few thousand years. We use special tools to collect these soft upper sediments – an advanced piston corer that shoots into the mud in 10 meter sections. This very first core will be on deck in only 30 minutes. We’ll send a special 2 minute video clip for the blog to capture this historic moment. Leg 318 begins in earnest today!