Pushing on through!

30 April 2019

Another huge day on the James Cook today as we’ve successfully positioned the test pipe, meaning we’re one step closer to the Controlled Release Experiment. This impressive feat was accomplished using the Cellula Robotics drill rig, custom built for this expedition. After being lowered over the side of the ship, the rig was carefully oriented on the seafloor by adjusting the ship’s position. Once in place, a series of hydraulic rollers gently pushed the curved pipe into the seafloor sediments. Once its job was done, the drill rig was then lifted back on board the ship.

Clockwise from top left: lowering the drill rig over the side of the ship; the drill team carefully monitor the rig’s progress; monitoring from the ROV van; all eyes on the screens in the lab too!

Mark Wells from Cellula Robotics is one of the drill team on board the ship – he found time to give us a quick tour of the rig before it was deployed..

Sadly, there’s little time to sit around basking in this engineering marvel as we’re straight onto the next task. Our mission now is to figure out exactly where the forward end of the pipe is located in the sediment so we can begin to position our landers (which contain all the monitoring kit and sensors) on the seafloor around it. Once again we are using our ROV Isis, this time to carry out a series of sub-bottom seismic profiles of the area – this technique uses pulses of sound to image the top few metres of the seabed so we can see the structure. After processing the data from this survey we will be able to peer beneath the seabed and see exactly where the end of the pipe is located.

The sub-bottom profiler data: very useful squiggly lines, once you know how to interpret them!

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