Drilling cores on the sea floor with the remote-controlled sea floor drilling rig MeBo
The sea floor drill rig MeBo (acronym for Meeresboden-Bohrgerät, German for sea floor drill rig) is a robotic drill rig that is deployed on the sea floor and operated remotely from the research vessel to drill up to 80 m into the sea floor. It was developed at the MARUM Research Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at Bremen University. The complete system – comprising the drill rig, winch, control station, and the launch and recovery system – is transported in six containers and can be deployed worldwide from German and international research ships. It was the first remote-controlled deep sea drill rig to use a wireline coring technique. Compared to drilling vessels this technology has the advantage of operating from a stable platform at the sea bed, which allows for optimal control over the drilling process. Especially for shallow drillings in the range of tens to hundreds of metres, sea bed drill rigs are time-efficient since no drill string has to be assembled from the ship to the sea floor before the first core can be taken. The MeBo has been successfully operated, retrieving high-quality cores at the sea bed for a variety of research fields, including slope stability studies and palaeoclimate reconstructions. Based on experience with the MeBo, a rig is now being built that will be able to drill to a depth of 200 m.