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Images: Knorr Shoots the Moon (Pool) to Drill for Coral

To obtain cores of coral, crew members on the WHOI-operated research vessel Knorr opened its long-dormant moon pool?a removeable section of the hull?to enable a team of scientists and commercial drillers to temporarily transform the ship into a drilling vessel. (Photo by Alexander Dorsk, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Researchers obtained their cores by running the drill through the ship's moon pool. During a five-week expedition off the coast of Barbados, the team drilled and recovered cores from ancient, fossilized coral reefs. The coral cores will provide a record of the rise and fall of Earth?s sea level over the past 40,000 years?deep into Earth?s last ice age, which ended roughly 10,000 years ago. (Photo by Kathy Ellins, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin)

A team from the Warren Davis Drilling Company in New Jersey brought along and assembled their own drill rig to obtain needed coral cores. Kathy Ellins from he University of Texas called Knorr "an extraordinary platform for shallow-water drilling work," adding that the ship's stability was essential to do the work. (Photo by Kathy Ellins, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin)

A member of the drilling team ascends the drill rig to connect a hose used to flush the drill pipe. By the end of the cruise, the team recovered a total of 60 meters of ancient coral cores (placed together end to end, they?d look like a tube that is nearly the height of a 20-story building). (Photo by Kathy Ellins, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin)