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IODP Expedition 330 Louisville Seamount Trail

Daily Report 26 -- Thursday, 6 January 2011 -- Let's Move Over



Site U1374 on 28.6°S Guyot 28° 35' 44.9988" S, 173° 22' 49.8" W
Louisville Seamount Trail
0 m above sea level

To re-enter Hole U1373A we had to deploy a free-fall funnel (FFF) into the hard ground of the seamount top. Our hope was that the erosive action of the drill pipe rotating had worn out the top of the hole sufficiently enough that the FFF would go in. If not, and it would tip over, we always could resort to trying to find the hole without any aid of the FFF but simply to try and aim for it. An amazing idea, but they had it done before in hard ground so definitely two shots worth trying.

When the dust settled after the FFF was emplaced, we took the VIT camera down to see how the FFF was standing in the formation. At first glance it stood upright and we were thinking we were in business. Even when we pulled out the drill string and drill bit through the funnel, it stayed upright and no indication of any failure at that point. The problems came when we tried to re-enter with the new drill bit. As soon as the bit entered the FFF it got stuck only 1 foot down in the funnel, which has a stem that is about 7 feet long. This was quite a surprise but the drill bit wouldn't want to proceed deeper in the funnel. Mud was being pumped to hydrologically blast out any potential obstruction in the throat of the funnel. As soon as the pressure built up, the FFF tipped over. Now plan B came into action and we tried for 2.5 hours to find the hole (now covered in drilling mud and rock debris from the drilling) but we couldn't do it. Our second site needed to be aborted as well. A large disappointment to many of us, but there wasn't anything to be done about it.

Fortunately we had the foresight to ask for approval a few days earlier from IODP-MI (IODP Management International) and the EPSP (Environmental Protection and Safety Panel) to drill new Alternate Site LOUI-6B located on the opposite site of this seamount. Just a few days earlier that approval was granted so we could just "hop" over to Site U1374. We didn't have to pull in the drill string because it already had a new bit and the captain approved the plan to put the JOIDES Resolution in dynamic positioning (DP) mode and use the thrusters to move to Site U1374 located 5.6 nmi at a bearing of 253 degrees from Site U1343. The 5.6 nmi offset was accomplished in 3.25 hours and by 1630 hr the vessel was positioning on the new location.