New Era of Scientific Ocean Drilling
Abstract:The D/V Chikyu, committed to scientific ocean drilling since 2007, has completed thirteen IODP expeditions, and Chikyu’s enhanced drilling technology gives us the means to reach deep targets, enhanced well logging, deep water riserless drilling, and state of the art laboratory.
Chikyu recovered core samples from 2466 meters below sea floor (mbsf) in IODP Exp. 337, and drilled to 3058.5 mbsf in IODP Exp. 348, but these are still not the limit of Chikyu’s capability. As deep as these depths are, they are just halfway to the 5200 mbsf plate boundary target for the NanTroSEIZE deep riser borehole. There are several active IODP proposals in the pipeline. Each has scientific targets requiring several thousand meters of penetration below the sea floor. Riser technology is the only way to collect samples and data from that depth.
Well logging has been enhanced with the adoption of riser drilling, especially for logging-while-drilling (LWD). LWD has several advantages over wireline logging, and provides more opportunities for continuous measurements even in unstable boreholes. Because of the larger diameter of riser pipes and enhanced borehole stability, Chikyu can use several state-of-the-art downhole tools, e.g. fracture tester, fluid sampling tool, wider borehole imaging, and the latest sonic tools. These new technologies and tools can potentially expand the envelope of scientific ocean drilling.
Chikyu gives us access to ultra-deep water riserless drilling. IODP Exp. 343/343T investigating the March 2011 Tohoku Oki Earthquake, explored the toe of the landward slope of the Japan Trench. This expedition reached the plate boundary fault target at more than 800 mbsf in water depths over 6900 m for logging-while-drilling, coring, and observatory installation. This deep-water drilling capability also expands the scientific ocean drilling envelope and provides access to previously unreachable targets.
On top of these operational capabilities, Chikyu’s onboard laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments to analyze all science samples. X-ray CT creates non-destructive 3D images of core samples providing high resolution structural detail. The microbiology laboratory offers clean and contamination-free work environments required for microbiological samples.