Friday, 16 April 2010

Cloudy Horizon?

It has been two days since the volcanic eruption on Iceland, and the promised cloud of ash failed to appear over the UK and North Sea. Much news coverage has been given to the hundreds of thousands of people stuck in airports, but no one seems to have considered the thousands of people languishing offshore because all the helicopters have been cancelled. On this rig alone there are over twenty people whose crew changes have been distrupted and are being forced to stay offshore. Multiply that by the hundred rigs and platforms currently operating in the North Sea and it's quite a large number. Contigency plans for crew changing by boat are being drawn up. (I think people would rather stay onboard than face an uncertain lift in a basket followed by 12 hours on a rolling supply vessel!)

From a geologist's point of view this eruption is fascinating, especially considering that in millions of years time the fallout will be preserved in the rocks. What's ironic is that at the start of this well we were drilling towards a layer of ash that had been deposited at the bottom of a sea, and now the same thing is happening over the same rocks. The wheel of time in action...

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