First MeBo-Drilling through cold-water coral mounds

24th February 2014

 

MeBo-on-MerianAlready the first attempt to drill one of the coral mounds in the Melilla coral province in the Alboran Sea during RV Maria S. Merian cruise MSM 36 (MoccoMeBo) was successful. On Friday the first drill core could be recovered from the top of a small mound, called Mole Mound, in a water depth of 235 m. The steepness of the mound made the landing of MeBo (Meeresboden Bohrgerät = sea floor drill rig) at the seafloor quite a challenge, but finally MeBo could be placed in a stable position and drilling commenced. After roughly 24 hours of drilling MeBo was recovered and brought a 48 m core on deck. With its total length of 48 m the core GeoB 18110-2 extends well below the topographic base of the mound that has an elevation of 35 m above the surrounding sea floor.

 

Drill-site-Mole-moundThe core consisted throughout of the typical coral-sediment mixture typical for these mounds. Over the basal age of the record it only can be speculated by now, but it might well reach back several glacial-interglacial cycles. After cutting the core into 1.2 m pieces these were put to the freezer to prepare them for opening. On Sunday the first frozen cores were opened with a stone saw finally revealing the first glimpse on a long geological cold-water coral record that might serve to answer many questions regarding the long-term development of these corals in the Alboran Sea and about the processes of the formation of these mounds.

 

Now, MeBo is already back on the sea floor drilling and we hope for more and even longer cores. More information: www.marum.de/RV_Maria_S._Merian_MSM36.html (check update link on top of page).