DrGw390 – last stop, Site U1559

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May 29, 2022 by Dr. G

(*If you missed my first post on my JOIDES Resolution adventure, I encourage you to start with DrGw390 – Week of quarantine. All posts will be tagged with #DrGw390.)

We spent from May 19 thru May 23 traveling to and coring at U1559. This post has a collection of my tweets from the coring at our final site for Expedition 390, our part of the South Atlantic Transect.


And on May 19, we were off to our final site of ocean drilling.

I had so many tours during this period, with so many excellent questions from students. Thank you, teachers, for preparing your students so well for their ship-to-shore connections with the JR! There was one questions in particular that stood out for me…

May 21 was when we arrived at the final Site U1559. Alas, we wouldn’t stay here for very long…

Before we started drilling, it was time for a ship tour – and a surprising find for me!

I’m still investigating this… I hope I can get back down there to see this piece of equipment again!

I can’t take tours down to the engine room or other restricted areas, but the kids on the tours are much more interested in other parts of the ship, such as the expedition logos in the stairwell.

Then, the activity on the rig floor started to shift…

What I didn’t post on social media (that we were all waiting to see how to officially share) is that on May 23, at 1315, “Bearing failed on the forward Elmagco brake.” Although we had another break to work with and could have continued, if that remaining break failed, that would have been the end of not just our expedition but most likely also part 2 of the South Atlantic Transect, Expedition 393. With 393 scheduled to depart Cape Town in early June, we had no choice but to trip pipe and call and end to our expedition. We packed up and started our transit to port.

I can’t begin to describe the immense sadness across the entire ship. Yes, there were tears. It was all so sudden. We knew this was our last site, but it was cut short so quickly, and we found out via email. How do you begin to process news like this? We only drilled in two holes at Site U1559, recovering 15 cores total. The next expedition will start their coring at U1559 to get the basement material we were not able to recover – assuming the replacement/repairs go smoothly. The replacement part is on its way via air freight from Houston, Texas. Keep your fingers-crossed that this 14-ton part gets to Cape Town and replaced on the ship very quickly.

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