The University of Washington has been funded to design, construct and test a deepsea rock drill that will have the initial capability of penetrating and sampling igneous basement rocks, lithified sediments, and both sulfide and carbonate sea-floor deposits to a coring depth of 3 m. The drill will be deployable to depths of up to 5000 m by a conventional research vessel, using the .680-in armored conducting cable, the unofficial National Science Foundation standard. This drill is expected to be the prototype of small, overthe- side rock drills that can penetrate to 50 m. Final design and construction start mid- February.
The drill will provide oriented rock cores from marine environments that are difficult, if not impossible, to sample using conventional sediment coring or dredging techniques. The ability to retrieve vertically oriented rock cores from 3 m below the surface of the sea floor opens a whole new vista of scientific opportunities. This capability will allow the research community to address problems that have only been approached by the Deep Sea Drilling Program (DSDP) and Ocean Drilling Program (ODP).