Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Moving Off the Ophiolite Standard

The Galapagos
Click on the image above for  the lovely details
Source: Google Earth
Another of ma belle soeur's is Barbara (Bobbie) John. Bobbie is a research geologist who teaches at the University of Wyoming. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, she chatted with me about her upcoming cruise. We're not talking kicking back with a Mai Tai on the Lido Deck, and checking out the action in the deep end of the pool. At the end of this quarter, Bobbie's going to head off on a jaunt aboard the Joides Resolution to study the action a good ways down beneath the ocean waves.

Out there on the Cocos Plate, west of the Galapagos there's a V-shaped ridge known as Hess Deep. The Deep is a crack under the ocean. Once aboard the ship, Bobbie and the rest of the gang will be drilling a hole down into Hess Deep, and recovering the rock (which at that point will be known as drill core) that comes back up in the drill rod to see what they've found.

How far will y'all be a' drillin' Bobbie? 

OK...we're drill at approx 4872 m below sea  roughly 15980 feet or nearly 1500 feet deeper than Mt Whitney is above sea level (if that helps).  This depth is likely not totally accurate as we have to find a drill site and then go for it...will keep you updated as we go. 

And why bother?

Because the current model research scientists have of what lies below the ocean crust in the Cocos plate, is based on rocks transported far from their origin onto remote continents, by tectonic forces (plate tectonic uplift). Geologists refer to these ancient assembleges as ophiolites. Ain't that a beautiful name? 

On this trip, the folks on the Joides Resolution want to see the fresh stuff. They are planning to get a more accurate picture of what lies under the ocean right there, right now, in situ

Check Out Hess Deep
by Clicking on the Image above
A V-Shaped Crack in the Bathysphere
West of the Galapagos


  1. Quite fascinating journey of discovery for keep us informed of the information they glean, ok?

    1. I'm going to! They blog from the ship (you can sign up at the site above) and I plan to follow what I read about the excursion. I don't know how they get the internet to work out in the ocean.....

  2. Christmas at Hess Deep Rift :

    Drill the lower oceanic crust in the Pacific

    12 December 2012 to 12 February 2013
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama

    As far as I can tell the excursion is still getting itself launched. I recall Bobbie told me it takes a few days to get everything loaded. I think maybe that's what's happening now...


    IODP Expedition 345 (Hess Deep Plutonic Crust) will take place from 11 December 2012 to 12 February 2013 aboard the scientific drillship JOIDES Resolution. The objective of this project is to sample for the first time, primitive magmatic rocks of the lower crust in the oceanic Pacific. These samples will help scientists seek to.....

  3. Annnddddd.... I just found this *wunderful* youtube video that the folks at J.Res put together. It explains the point of the expedition in such a fun way. I like the way it was put together art and techno 'wise as well. I hope you do too.

    1. Woops I forgot the url!