Moonpool of the JOIDES Resolution. Photo: Steffen Kutterolf/GEOMAR

Image of the month: October 2019

How drill cores from the seabed help to understand the earth

Our image of the month October 2019 shows the so-called moonpool of the scientific drilling ship JOIDES Resolution. The moonpool is the opening in the hull through which the drill pipes from the derrick are lowered into the depth. The JR, as the JOIDES Resolution is often briefly called, is able to drill more than 2000 metres into the seabed at water depths of up to 5800 m. 

The almost 144 metre long ship was commissioned under the name Sedco/BP 471 in 1978 as an exploration vessel for the oil industry . In 1984 it was converted into a scientific drilling ship. In 1985, it entered the service of the international Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), which today continues as the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The JR has remained one of the most important research platforms of the programme to this day.

The most striking feature of the ship is the drilling rig, the derrick, that rises 62 metres above the waterline. In addition to the actual equipment for drilling, the JR also has extensive laboratory facilities for the description and initial analysis of the extracted cores. These will later be used by researchers worldwide to study climate and ocean change, to investigate the limits of life in the depth, to understand processes in the Earth's interior and thus to draw conclusions about natural hazards resulting from volcanism and plate tectonics.

GEOMAR scientists regularly take part in the JR's expeditions, which usually last two months. In recent years, these expeditions have dealt with volcanism and plate movements off Costa Rica, the development of the Antarctic ice sheet over the past 15 million years, and hydrothermal and volcanic systems off New Zealand. The picture of the month was taken during the IODP 375 expedition, which dealt with regular, slow-slip earth movements at the Hikurangi subduction zone off New Zealand's North Island.

More information:

The Ocean Discovery Program

Website of the JOIDES Resolution

Informationen about expedition IODP 375 (German)

Blog of the expedition IODP 376 (German)

GEOMAR NEWS 02/2019 with an article about IODP 382 (page 12, German)

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Further view of the Moonpool of the JR. Photo: Philipp Brandl/GEOMAR

Further view of the Moonpool of the JR. Photo: Philipp Brandl/GEOMAR

The JR derrick seen from the deck. Photo: Philipp Brandl/GEOMAR

The JR derrick seen from the deck. Photo: Philipp Brandl/GEOMAR

The JR at sea. Photo: Peter Linke/GEOMAR

The JR at sea. Photo: Peter Linke/GEOMAR