the deepest hole yet…

So over the last three days we’ve drilled down 130m at our latest site. This site has thick sediments overylying hydrothermally altered mud and rocks. There’s methane, hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide present at various depths which bodes well for microbial activity at this site.  We’ve had good core recovery (sometimes as high as 80-90%) so that means we also have a lot of meters of core to work with. When we don’t have good recovery, we can drill a deep hole, but we don’t collect much core.

The microbiologists have been counting cells and setting up enrichment cultures to try to figure out what organisms are living here. The geochemists have been collecting water and sediment and making measurements of a variety of dissolved and solid phase species (major ions, trace metals, alkalinity, carbon/nitrogen/sulfer). We’ve also been ‘logging core’ which means sedimentologists and petrologists spend many hours visually inspecting the core and doing microscopy and x-ray diffraction analysis to determine what minerals are present. I’m stilll measuring physical properties that provide context for all these other measurements and collecting samples to bring home for organic carbon characterization.

In a light moment from Friday evening — a somewhat more festive sampling party:

 This is funnier if you have read the post from Sept 14th!!