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Deep Water Scientific Drilling in Lake Malawi, Africa

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A new deep water drilling system was developed and applied to recover deeply buried sediments for scientific analyses in one of the deep rift valley lakes of Africa—Malawi. This approach overcame the difficulty of maintaining position over a drill site in a remotely located, large, deep lake. Environmental conditions in Lake Malawi are similar to deep water marine settings and, as such, a marine approach was adopted for the Lake Malawi Drilling Project (LMDP). In February and March 2005, the modified pontoon, Viphya, successfully completed a scientific drilling expedition in Lake Malawi. This expedition recovered core at depths greater than 380 m below lake-floor in water depths as great as 600 m. The major refit of Viphya included installation of a moonpool, bridge, crew accommodations, mess, washroom, power system, dynamic positioning, and a drilling system. These major modifications required early pontoon surveys and naval architectural analyses and design work prior to their commencement. The expedition also used modified scientific coring tools with a marine geotechnical drilling rig for the first time, resulting in excellent core recovery and quality.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4031/002533206787353637

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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