Joides Resolution was an impressive ship to see in Victoria Harbour, a casual visitor to the city over tha last few years. In the context of the politically charge debate of offshore oil drilling in BC, it was often a sight that made people nervous, but certainly interested all that saw the ship. An impresive, specialized piece of equipment.
I read in the paper about the completion of the $540 millions USD CHIKYU; a new drillship, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and ready to set to break records in research drilling of the ocean floor. It is destined to replace the Joides Resolution and purpose built for science work.
A press release from the Japanese below, gives some background, and you can visit the Center for Deep Earth eXploration (CDEX) for further pictures and program introduction.
"CHIKYU (“Earth” in Japanese) is a cutting-edge scientific research vessel that is capable of drilling to 7,000m below the seabed at 2,500m water depth. It measures 210m in overall length, 38m in breadth, and weights 57,087 tons, the world’s largest in size. The drilling derrick installed on the vessel towers 130m from the bottom of the vessel, as high as a 32-story building.
As a deep-drilling research vessel, CHIKYU is the first to introduce the riser drilling method that has been developed and recently employed in offshore oil and gas fields. Connecting the drilling vessel to the blowout preventer at the sea floor, a riser pipe acts as a pathway for the mud circulation which allows them to drill much deeper under stable conditions. The research area of the CHIKYU is composed of four decks and its total floor space is 2,300 square meters. It includes such facilities as Core Cutting Place, X-Ray CT Scanner Lab, QA/QC Sampling Room.
The CHIKYU drilling platform will be carried out in the framework of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), in which 15 countries as Japan, US, EU are taking part. Japan is expected to take the lead in the program, making full use of its technological strength.
In the past 4.6 billion-year history of the Earth, successive events of meteorite strikes, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions have repeatedly affected people’s life environment and activities. These days, extreme weather presumably caused by the El Nino phenomenon has caused extensive damage globally. In order to account for natural phenomena, CHIKYU will attempt to get to the unexplored area level below the sea bottom.
CHIKYU was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and delivered to the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in July 2005. At present, it is in training and testing operations in Japanese waters and is scheduled to come back to the MHI Yokohama Dockyard in mid December for maintenance of its hull and equipment. "
Also check out the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.