WHOI ROV Rock Drill System

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The National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF) ROV Jason2 fitted with the MBARI drill system (red arrow) in 2003 for work at the Endeavour hydrothermal vent field. (Photo by D. Kelley)

The National Science Foundation has recently awarded a grant to Maurice Tivey and Dan Fornari at WHOI to provide operational oversight and coordination for the use of a ROV-based drilling system on Jason2 for the US science community (NSF-OCE-0531466).  The drill system was developed and operated for the last decade by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and has now been transferred to WHOI through the purchase made possible by the NSF funding.  MBARI is collaborating in the transfer of the drill technology and operational expertise required to use it. 

The management and operation of the drilling equipment will be done within the scope of the Third Party Tool guidelines established by the UNOLS Deep Submergence Science Committee (DESSC) (http://www.unols.org/committees/dessc/3rdpartytool.html), in close collaboration with members of the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF) and with regular reporting to the DESSC and federal agency sponsors of NDSF.

This web site provides basic information to potential science users of the ROV Drill System and encourages users to submit proposals for its use.  An ROV provides all control, navigation and power infrastructure needed to operate a small seafloor drilling system, plus state-of-the-art real-time visual imaging.  The ROV platform provides a tremendous opportunity to link exploratory missions with superb sampling capabilities.  The limitation with ROV-based drilling is the lack of deep penetration into the seafloor.  However, obtaining multiple high-quality samples in the form of short (~2-100 cm) cores, where and when they are needed provides a major leap forward in our ability to sample and document the seafloor and to test hypotheses related to the formation and evolution of the ocean crust and the microbial habitats that reside therein.  Routine ROV-based drilling also provides excellent opportunities for emplacement of instruments in a wide range of seafloor environments and outcrops that are important for time-series measurements of chemical, biological and geophysical processes.  Having a drill system that can be used routinely on a ROV cruise provides the advantage of being able to accomplish both traditional mapping and sampling as well as deployment of corehole-based instruments during the same cruise.

In 2003, the MBARI drill was fitted to ROV Jason2 and used to drill holes for a microbiology incubation experiment and in situ seismometer deployments at the Main Endeavour Field [Kelley et al., 2003; McGill et al., 2004; Wilcock et al., 2004]. It will be used again in Sept. 2005 to drill additional holes in sulfide and basalt structures for microbiological experiment deployments (D. Kelley, pers. commun., 2005).

  Kelley, D.S., J.A. Karson, D. Yoerger, G.L. Fruh-Green, D.A. Butterfield, and M. Lilley, Discovering New Mantle-Hosted Submarine Ecosytems: The Lost City Hydrothermal Field, EOS Trans. AGU, 84(46), B12A-0769, 2003.

  McGill, P.R., W.S. Wilcock, D.S. Stakes, A.H. Barclay, T.M. Ramirez, and D.R. Toomey, A Long-Term Seismic Array on the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, EOS Trans. AGU, 84 (46), B12A-0748, 2003.

  Wilcock, W.S., A.H. Barclay, P.R. McGill, D.S. Stakes, T.M. Ramirez, D.R. Toomey, D.T. Durant, E.E. Hooft, and T.L. Mulder, Local Earthquakes on the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge: First Seismic Results from the Keck Seismic/Hydrothermal Observatory, EOS Trans. AGU, 85 (47), B13A-0180, 2004.


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Last updated August 12, 2005
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