Monday, November 3, 2014

Landing the fish

Rupert Sutherland, GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington
John Townend, Victoria University of Wellington
Virginia Toy, University of Otago

Photo: R. Marx.

The BHA — 7400 kg of steel — was lost to the bottom of the hole over a week ago. The weather packed up shortly afterwards. It was a pretty grim week to be a scientist or a driller in Whataroa. But, the science and weather forecasts are good.

Photo: R. Marx.

The drillers have been fantastic. They methodically and calmly worked at the problem, systematically cleaning out loose materials and deconstructing the top of the lost BHA. It is amazing how they can picture and even feel what is going on 324 m underground. Over the last 10 days they have recovered wire rope, a shackle, a piece of wet rag, the top and then the bottom of the heavy steel hauling plug. They grabbed stuff with all sorts of special tools and even lifted the whole assembly by 5 m at one point. The mood has steadily improved.

This morning, just as the hail set in, they successfully latched onto the top of the BHA. By lunch time, the top of the ‘fish’ was visible at the surface. Tomorrow morning it will be landed. Then there will just be some minor bits of trash to clean up. Hopefully we will be drilling again by Thursday.

Drillers landing the fish. Photo: R. Marx.

Primary funders of the DFDP-2 project are: the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand, GNS Science, Victoria University of Wellington, and the University of Otago.

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