May 24 - my last day on the Chikyu. The science party was taken off the ship by helicopter. We landed in Sendai which had been hit hard by the tsunami following the Tohoku earthquake. Tragedy struck here and while scars remain, people are recovering. Japan is a beautiful place full of amazing people and I have loved being here!
After the core as been described and expedition samples have been taken. We gather to take personal samples that will be used for future research off the ship. First, flags are placed to indicate the sample each scientist would like to take. We discuss conflicting sample requests and talk about the core. Then we begin sampling! Sections of the core are oriented (red arrow points up), removed and carefully packaged.
After the core has been scanned it is split in half and laid out on tables. Half of the core is saved as an archive. It is described and photographed before being put away for preservation. The other half is the working half. Discrete samples are taken from this half for ship board measurements of density, resistivity, compressive strength, etc.
When the core arrives in the lab it is scanned using a X-ray CT scanner. This provides images of the core while it is still in the core liner so scientist can see what structures the core contains before it is cut open. That way we know if the core contains some thing really important (like the fault zone) and needs to be handled differently.
We have been getting core from the most recent borehole. Its first stop after it arrives on the drill floor is the core cutting deck. Samples are taken to be analyzed for hydrogen and the core is cut into ~1.5 m sections before being taken down to the core processing lab.
The Chikyu provided a great location to see the annular solar eclipse today. The science party and our wonderful lab techs gathered on the helicopter deck this morning with cameras and viewing glasses in hand to watch the eclipse.
The Chikyu world championship ping pong tournament finished on May 14. There were some very exciting games and a lot of fun!
We are waiting on weather again. Yesterday our most recent storm started so I went outside to watch it roll in. The waves didn’t really start till this morning but we won’t be able to start drilling until it calms down.
Bad news: The drill string broke off in the hole the night before last. This led to a chocolate therapy session for the science party. We were headed for depression since this newest set back meant we would only have time to do either the temperature observatory or coring, not both.
Good news: Yesterday afternoon we were told that the expedition would be extended 4 days to allow time to set a new wellhead so both the observatory and coring could be completed, if all goes well and there are no more set backs. Here’s hoping it all goes well!!
Life on a Ship
The crew cabins on the Chikyu are small but its perfect since I only spend ~8 hours there. The curtains block any light that comes in through cracks around the door. That and the rocking of the ship are 2 things I will definitely miss.
Safety is very important on the Chikyu so I have my personal protection equipment stored above my locker. There’s a life jacket (of coarse), an immersion suit, and a 10 minute supply of air. All of which I am hoping I don’t need