+++ ICDP: Call for Proposals - Next Chance January 15, 2018 +++ Highlights and Updates Moved to the new ICDP Web Site +++

It's the final day in Indonesia for me for this trip. The work isn't totally complete- we are still working on paperwork related to exporting our cores and equipment, but this will come together soon. For now, a final image of dawn at Lake Towuti. The project will now enter its next phase- opening the cores, and digging into detailed analyses to understand the environmental history of Sulawesi. Look for posts and updates here as this work gets into gear. (TDP on facebook) Image of the day.
Click to enlarge
Dawn at Lake Towuti. (TDP on facebook)

Date Image of the day Message of the day
2015-07-13 It's the final day in Indonesia for me for this trip. The work isn't totally complete- we are still working on paperwork related to exporting our cores and equipment, but this will come together soon. For now, a final image of dawn at Lake Towuti. The project will now enter its next phase- opening the cores, and digging into detailed analyses to understand the environmental history of Sulawesi. Look for posts and updates here as this work gets into gear. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-10 Today Tia and I made our final rounds through Sorowako, Wawondula, and Timampu to wrap up paperwork and, more importantly, say thanks and goodbye to our many friends here. After eight years of work including four major field expeditions and countless planning visits to Lake Towuti it is amazing for both of us to see the Towuti Drilling Project completed. But it is with mixed emotions that we leave a place that we've come to think of as our home away from home. To everyone in Luwu Timur who made our time here so special: terima kasih dan sampai jumpa. We look forward to working with all of you again soon in the next phase of our research. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-09 Yesterday at 4:03 PM the last two containers of drilling equipment were loaded onto a truck bound for port, and our physical activities here in the field came to an end. All that's left is a tangle of paperwork to wrap things up here and then ship ~5 tons of sediment core to the US. We'll get it done; I just hope there aren't too many headaches along the way... (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-08 The project is nearing completion; there are only a few containers left to send to port and then a lot of paperwork to wrap things up. It's a good time to acknowledge the team from DOSECC Exploration Services that made so much of this happen. Beau, Justin, Tim, Steve, AJ, Shane: you guys were great. Thanks so much for your efforts through all of the challenges. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-07 Demob is now in full swing. The first set of containers left Towuti's shore late this afternoon bound for the port of Balantang, and the barge is starting to look a bit sparse. The cores, all ~1100 meters of them, are crated up and waiting for pickup and shipment to LacCore at the University of Minnesota. The last two days have also seen the majority of the project scientists depart by night bus, so now it's just Satria, Tika, Hafidz, Ryan, and the DES team on site to wrap things up. And, of course, yours truly. Until next week. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-06 Tonight a special night for the Towuti Drilling Project. After a day of work unloading barge at the dock located in the village of Pekaloa and packing equipment in Sorowako house, we met the Head of Towuti invitated to attend an iftar with the government of East Luwu in his home office. In the event, officially we say goodbye to Opu Regent Andi Hatta Marakarma. Although we've been going back to our respective countries, God willing, the relationship that has existed between the TDP and East Luwu regency will not be interrupted. Hopefully our research can contribute to the advancement of Earth Guru, particularly in the field of science and technology and the environment. When we arrived back at Sorowako after the event, the TDP photographed together. Moreover, some of us, including me, had to leave East Luwu tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for the help guys. ' We want to leave first. Pis later we met again in the future! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-04 The 4th of July holiday. BBQ, swimming pools, fresh cut grass, High Life. If I were home right now I'd probably smoke a pork shoulder. Well, here at TDP, we have a different way of celebrating the 4th: Demobilization! We spent the day disassembling the barge, with our flags flying high. The work is going quickly, and we are all working hard for a smooth and on-time departure. Best of all, Sinyo treated us to a coconut juice break in the mid-morning heat, which was much appreciated by Shane and Justin in the shade of the drill. To all of our friends stateside, we hope you had a great holiday! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-03 Our first hole at Site 3 bottomed out in coarse gravel at about 174 m below the lake floor, the project's deepest hole yet. Yesterday we began drilling our second hole at Site 3 to ensure good overlaps between cores and 100% recovery of the sedimentary section. Then, under a clear sky, at about 60 m sub-bottom while drilling through a tephra, another rod broke, and the sediments of Towuti gobbled up another ~60 m of drill rod, a coring tool, and miscellaneous other equipment. With that, our drilling operations came to a close. We're now starting the long and tedious process of demobilization, which includes everything from disassembling the equipment to paying off all of our bills. More info to come soon... (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-02 Today we're going to acknowledge a few unsung heroes of the project- the crews and assistants that have been working with us since day one of the project on the boats and in the dock to make sure our crews get to and from the barge, fuel and supplies get transferred cleanly and safely every day, and just making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Sometimes they sleep on the boat on the lake for us, and they're always ready to work at a moment's notice. I've worked with a few of these guys for over 8 years, and it's always a pleasure. Arief, Ariefin, Arman, and a special thanks to Bahtiar, Lorenz, and most especially Sinyo Rio- we could not do this project without you. Last night we finished our first hole at Site 3, and with only 3 drilling shifts left, we'll try for one more hole all the way to bedrock. Wish us luck! (TDP on facebook) Do you want to learn more about the Towuti Drilling Project? Wanna see photos and videos from the field and hear our Sulawesi stories from the past 1.5 months? If you're in Jakarta, come to AtAmerica in Pacific Place Mall this coming Tuesday, July 7. Free! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-07-01 Today we have to say goodbye to a a fine young driller, Skyler Davis, who is off to Salt Lake City to get married. Skyler, it's been a true pleasure having you here and you will be sorely missed. From all of us here at TDP, congratulations and we wish a long and joyous marriage. The project is beginning to wind down. We had another fight anchoring the barge yesterday; had to drop two anchors near the drill site and ride out the night. Now all four anchors are down and we're getting ready to core our final hole or two. Should be drilling by the evening at the latest. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-30 Ever wondered what spending 24 hours on the drilling barge logging the borehole feels like? This video might help answer that. We send logging tools down at least one drilled hole at each site to log various physical properties of the sediment in situ. This helps us to correlate our sediment cores to "true depth", and gives us valuable information about the sedimentology of the sites before we ever open a core. This video, thanks to Jan-Thorsten Blanke, will give you an idea of how that work is done. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-29 Last night we wrapped up our borehole logging operation at Site 2. The site turned out to be much more challenging than we had anticipated, with a couple of thick, cemented tephras and semi-lithified sections. But with the completion of the logging, we've now completed our primary coring targets and have close to 800 meters of core in hand. The image below shows what we've gotten. We have a few more days and will move on to one of our secondary targets. All is going well now, and anything extra we get is icing on the cake. Meanwhile, yours truly has a lot of work ahead to prep for demob... (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-27 What a rollercoaster this project has been. Yesterday things were going beautifully. The day shift set a new single shift core recovery record not only for the project but for DOSECC as a whole: 79.3 meters. We were set to complete hole 2B early this morning, log the hole, and tow to our final site tomorrow. Then, at about 1:30 AM the drill got stuck in a tephra and we broke a rod somewhere near the lake bottom. After fishing for it for a while, we had to give up and lose a drill string to the sediments of Lake Towuti. Starting over now at a new hole, 2C, and hoping for better luck this time. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-26 Early this morning we bottomed out at 137.4 meters below lake floor in a coarse gravel at Site 2A. GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The site is already yielding surprises. The upper sediments consist of distal deltaic deposits from the Mahalona River, which links Lake Towuti to Lake Matano. The lower sediments appear much more lithified than equivalent sediments at site 2, and contain what appear to be very thick volcanic tephras. As we get closer to the end of our drilling operations (slated for 6 July), we are all starting to really look forward to the core splitting party and seeing what is in these tubes of sediment!!! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-25 We've had choppy, windy, stormy weather on the lake the last two days. This made the process of lifting the anchors, towing the barge, and re-anchoring and re-positioning at Site 2 a real pain. This wound up taking two days, but we finally completed this yesterday at 5 PM. More ominously, our hydraulic problems with the water pump have reared their ugly head again, at least intermittently. But the night shift led by Tim "killing it" Frazier, have already gotten 60 m of core from site 2. The day shift is heading out, and if we can get 2 or 3 days of clean coring we should be able to wrap the site up quickly. At least these storms have given us some nice rainbows. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-23 Yesterday night we bottomed out in sandy gravel at 154.6 meters depth. The last cores from Site 1 were brought to shore and logged in the lab. After almost exactly 1 month, we're calling it quits for the site. Altogether we recovered 573.15 meters from the site, with the last hole containing a nearly complete sequence from the uppermost deep-water lake clays through peats, beach sands, and fluvial gravels at the base of the core. We're logging the borehole now, and today we'll tow the barge to Site 2 and start drilling there. With a working barge the crews are really flying now, drilling 50-80 meters per shift to make up for lost time. Below are photos of the last cores coming to dock and the last core catcher getting logged. Let's all pray the string of good luck continues! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-22 What a difference a night makes. Yesterday the day crew managed to finish up our third hole at Site 1 with limited water pump function and somewhat limited recovery. Beau Marshall from DOSECC arrived from the US with a replacement valve for the controls on the water pump. After installing it, the night crew managed to core 70 meters in nine hours, working in a hard rain for a lot of the night. Here are some photos of the team, led by Tim, AJ, and Shane -not-a-slave-to-fashion- Scheel and assisted by Ryan O'Grady, Kartika Kirana, and Chris Kelly (and a guest appearance by yours truly). We're now making good progress, and have a much better shot at completing the project before our demobilization deadline if we can keep this pace up for a week or two. As for me, I've been up for 33 hours straight, so time for a short nap before loading the borehole logging gear onto our supply boat. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-20 Another day of trying to core with severely limited equipment. Yesterday, after re-tripping the rods, the night shift reamed us back down to ca. 45 m depth, and cored their way through a thick tephra at that depth. The day shift then showed up, started trying to core with the hydraulic piston corer (HPC). We couldn't get the water pump to consistently generate enough pressure to fire the HPC. By noon the pump was down and getting rebuilt, but there aren't enough spares to do a proper rebuild. It seems as though we have had multiple major equipment failures since day 1- the main hydraulic pumps that power the entire drilling rig, AND the water pumps used in coring. We're dead in the water without both of these. We're doing our best to keep coring, but with limited pump function progress is extremely slow. All we scientists can do is watch with astonishment as this ridiculous string of equipment failures plays out, and do our best to help where we can to get things back on track. Of course, it would be much, much worse were it not for the beauty of this place we are living in. I realized I've been giving the sunsets here short shrift, but here is one. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-19 After replacing the wireline sheeve and more tuning of the hydraulics, we are coring again. Yesterday in two shifts we reached about 56 m below the lake floor, then, unfortunately, the hydraulic piston corer got stuck. Last night Tim and crew had to trip all of the rods back up, free the coring tool, then send them all back down again and drill (not coring) their way back down to 56 meters. They should reach that depth right about when the day shift shows up, about 20 minutes from now. If we can get a few days of good luck, we should be able to finish this hole, get one more good hole, and finish site 1- over 30 days after we first anchored there. Let's all pray for a few days of good coring. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-18 Another day, another broken part. Last night the night shift, led by Tim -Fix It- Frazier, assembled a replacement kelly hose by welding together the correct connections and using 1 inch hydraulic line. It's not perfect, but it worked, and the day shift managed to fire off three cores. Then the bearing set on the sheeve supporting the wireline blew. Will it ever end? We spent the rest of the day running around to machine shops until we found one that could install a new bearing set. A replacement is on its way, but meanwhile, another day gone. These down days have led to some interesting scenes on the barge like the one below, where the biggest guy on our crew, Shane, supported by Tim and AJ, stands on a 40 inch wrench to try to break apart fittings on the broken hose. Meanwhile, Ryan stands on the hose and hopes nothing's coming at him. And the downtime has also witnessed some outstanding sunrises. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-16 First the good news. We got the pumps hooked up yesterday (it took longer than expected, but OK), and took our first core in two weeks! Now for the bad news. After taking that core, we sent down the next core, tried to fire it, and the kelly hose (the main water supply hose) blew up. We are now looking at another potentially lengthy delay as we seek a replacement. We should know how lengthy later this morning, but spirits are low. With Ramadan approaching, we don't have much time to try to finish project objectives. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-14 A new day dawns? Today, at long last, we got the replacment pumps and they are now being installed on the rig. The photo below, taken shortly after dawn, is from our supply boat, showing a barrel of oil and two replacement pumps en route to the rig. I shouldn't have been able to take that photo, as the pumps were due to arrive last night. But, in an unbelievable but fitting end to the delivery saga, the truck bringing the pumps from Makassar to Sorowako (arranged by Atlas Copco) ran out of gas en route. Let's hope this bad luck is behind us- with even a little bit of good luck we'll be drilling before this day is over! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-13 The pumps are finally on the way! They left Makassar about 4 hours ago, and will arrive tonight. With any luck, we'll be drilling on day shift tomorrow. And it couldn't come sooner. The team has been looking for things to do, and has started sampling everything on the hotel menu. Last night we all had soda gembira (translation is happy soda), a mixture of pink fanta and sweetened condensed milk. Yes, you read that right. They described this as "sweet, rejuvenating, and life-altering." Meanwhile, as you can see below the drillers today got to sample coconut milk straight from the cocunut with lime, avocado, and a bit of sugar. So who do you think got the better end of that deal? (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-12 Yesterday TDP's very own used car salesman and hitman, Chris "Buzz" Kelly, lost a beard and gained a mustache. He asked for a beard trim, but got a little more than he expected, and the ladies at the hairdresser thought Buzz's mustache was too hot to cut off. He's really rocking it now, as no one will lend him a beard trimmer. Give us your vote: Mustache: dirty lip or Indonesian idol? PS- still waiting for pumps. (TDP on facebook) The saga continues. It's worth it to review this whole rig shutdown business. Two weeks ago to the day Atlas Copco told us they thought the problem with the rig were hydraulic flow compensators- small valve systems that act as surge suppressors on the fluid flow. We managed to get CAP logistics to hotshot those compensators to DOSECC headquarters in Utah (a saga in itself, as the sale of the compensators required approval from various head offices of Atlas Copco. Steve spent all night arranging this). Rich Szentmiklosi of DOSECC jumped on a plane to Jakarta, where he met Steve Cole, who jumped on two planes back to here (Rich spent all of 1 day in Jakarta). We installed those in the middle of the night- they didn't work ($5,000 down the drain). Atlas Copco then told us that it must be the main hydraulic pumps (which cost $30k), and that we had to order them that same day (last Friday) or risk a long shutdown as we couldn't order them over the weekend. They promised those pumps to us by Wednesday if we ordered last Friday. We did it, then Atlas Copco failed to ship the pumps from Texax until the following Monday afternoon. At first they told us the pumps would show up this morning (Saturday), then said they'd rush ordered them to arrive last Wednesday. They could not or would not give us a tracking number to see what was going on. Well, the pumps arrived in Jakarta in the middle of the night Wednesday, and got stuck in customs until late yesterday. No one seemed to be pushing the customs. The pumps finally were inspected and released yesterday afternoon, and Atlas Copco tried to send them on a plane to Makassar (where we will pick them up and drive them to Lake Towuti, a 12-hour car ride). All looked good, until someone noticed hydraulic oil leaking from a pump. Apparently customs didn't properly refit one of the caps on the pump. The air freight company rejected the shipment, and the pumps are now being sent to Atlas Copco in Jakarta, where they will be repackaged and sent to Makassar late today (I hope). They should arrive Sunday morning, 4 days after originally promised. Meanwhile, the project bleeds money at a rate of about $3,000/day, and DOSECC bleeds money at a standby rate of maybe $5,000/day. So, we would all welcome your comments about Atlas Copco customer service. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-10 Another day dawns at Lake Towuti. I'm writing this from the dock we built at the shore of Lake Towuti, where I've been since 5:30 AM waiting for the night crew to come back from the barge and trying to organize everything for the expected resumption of drilling operations this Saturday. Yes, you read that right- after two weeks of delay, new hydraulic pumps are almost here now, and we expect to be up and running again in two days! For all of us Towutians it couldn't come soon enough. I've been in Indonesia for the last 40 days (and about 80 days in 2015), and will be here for 33 more. I love this place and what I do: the research, the scenery, and the people I get to work with. But last night the hotel served us potato salad. While it was a great respite from rice (usually 3 hits a day!), to be honest it made me miss my wife's potato salad. And the woman herself. And the dogs. And summer in Rhode Island. So let's all hope that these pumps work and that we're back on track this weekend! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-09 TDP gets strange. The days are getting longer, and without the daily routine of drilling and sample processing, the mind wanders. Some of us are trying to sample every item on the hotel menu. Yesterday I tried the Oreo Milkshake (=sugar-bomb) after a sate dinner. Fueled by this sugary inspiration, I tried some sate stick and milkshake straw art. Jan-Thorsten captured the moment on camera. A work of beauty, isn't it? In other news, our first core shipment left Sorowako yesterday bound for our friends at LacCore, USA. Here's hoping for no shipping delays! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-08 The downtime has given us some time to analyze data from the first two holes to assess the efficiency of our recovery. In lake drilling, each core is brought to the surface in 3 meter increments, which can leave gaps between the 3 meter sections. It can also be difficult to core sands and hard materials. We can just drill through those materials (not coring them), but this leaves additional gaps. We try to fill these gaps by drilling multiple holes at each site. At Towuti Site 1, for instance, we hope to drill 4 holes to get close to 100% recover of the sediments. To assess how well we are doing, we try to correlate geophysical data, such as the magnetic susceptibility (a measure of the concentration of magnetic minerals in the sediment) from each core, and then test this data against measurements of susceptibility made using borehole logging tools (these are sensors lowered down the hole in the bottom of the lake) to assess the gaps using a piece of software called Correlator. It is a quirky program, to say the least. Ryan and I spent most of the morning trying to do this. As you can see from the screenshot below, we were doing pretty well. Then the software crashed. And we started over. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-07 The interminable wait for rig parts continues. To keep things lively, here is the next installment in our DrillCam miniseries: Recovering a Core. A special thanks goes to Skyler Davis, who attached his GoPro to his hard hat to film these videos. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-06 It's been nine days since we last drilled a core, and will be at least five more until we can get new pumps for the rig and start coring again. It's a hard pill to swallow that after 4 years of careful planning, the project has come together beautifully, yet the most critical piece of drilling equipment is defective. This is not to say we haven't made progress- the Geomicrobiology team has finished processing our first core, and has an excellent set of samples with which to understand biogeochemical processes in metal-rich sediment. And as you see from previous posts, our outreach efforts are really making an impact in the local community. Meanwhile, due to the lull, much of the science team is taking the opportunity to visit nearby Tana Toraja to see some of the region's rich cultural heritage, while Tia, Ryan, and I stay here to push things along as best we can. To take us to happier times, here is a video from Towuti Drilling Project's world famous DrillCam. This clip takes us back to the project's salad days when we had a working drill. This video shows the process of deploying a hydraulic piston corer (HPC), the principal piece of equipment we use for coring soft lake sediments. Next up: core recovery. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-05 As our drilling operation is down at the moment, some scientists and students involved in the Towuti Drilling Project are visiting other parts of South Sulawesi to enjoy the rich and beautiful cultural and natural landscapes that the region has to offer. A few of us who stay around Lake Towuti also take this opportunity to visit some lovely outcrops. We are hoping to learn more about the local geology and to identify potential sites for rock and sediment sampling over the next few days. Additionally, this week we have been visiting multiple schools in the area. We visited two elementary schools, one junior high school, and one senior high school. We are thankful to the teachers as well as the students and their parents for inviting us and for warmly welcoming us to their schools. We hope that these visits not only give our friends who live near Lake Towuti a better understanding about TDP; we also hope to inspire and motivate the students to pursue higher education in STEM-related fields. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-04 After a lot of planning, we managed to hotshot replacement parts for our rig from Texas to Sorowako in 3 days. Last night, we installed those parts, hoped for the best, and got the worst- the new parts did not fix the problem. It seems likely that the main hydraulic pump for the rig is broken. We're staring at another 5-6 day wait, and hoping we can still complete all of our objectives. It may be a longer stay in Indonesia than we had originally planned. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-03 Day 4 of our wait begins. Our replacement parts show up in 6 hours and 25 minutes, so hopefully we'll be back in operation tonight. We're on pins and needles. But things haven't been completely been completely boring. We had a big storm a couple nights ago on Towuti that tossed our emergency boat around. Even crazier, the barge got hit with a beetle infestation. The beetles have mostly left, but it was a crazy scene for a couple of days. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-02 Day three of our wait for rig parts is halfway through. The days are getting long, and we're trying to keep our regular schedule of 12-hour rotations so that we can jump straight into drilling when the rig is fixed (hopefully tomorrow). This usually means sunrises on the lake, which are a beautiful sight. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-06-01 Our standby continues while waiting for new parts for the rig. Yesterday the grad students completed our surface sediment sampling program that will let us characterize spatial variations in the chemical and mineralogical composition of modern sediments in Towuti- important to understanding variations in the past. We expect the spare parts to arrive tomorrow, so we are prepping everyone to get back on 12-hour shifts. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-31 Today is the first full day of a complete shutdown of our drilling operations. Unfortunately, we have not found a solution for the drilling rig and are just going to have to wait for new parts to arrive from the heart of drilling country: Texas, USA. We are taking this time to get our business back in order, process our preliminary data, and prepare for drilling to resume later this week. So, once again, we take the opportunity to celebrate the natural beauty of Luwu Timur. For those of you who have never traveled to the tropics, there is really something different about the light here. I often stand in awe of it. But keep tuned: coming soon is "drillcam". (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-30 We have been logging for the last two days while the DES crew has tried to fix the drilling rig. Unfortunately, the is still not fully functional, so we are in delay until we can obtain replacement parts for the rig. As our driller Tim put it, "the drill won't drill." Simultaneously, we are working extremely hard to communicate our research to the local communities, who are very concerned about environmental impacts on the lake. We are making progress, but slowly. In light of these developments, rather than work photos I am posting some shots from Chris, Marina, and Ryan of the plants and animals that live in this beautiful, beautiful place. We hope you enjoy them. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-29 Yesterday we bottomed out in hole 1B at ~160 m in what looks like bedrock. This is shallower than we expected, so we are planning another hole to see if we can get a thicker sediment section corresponding to the early history of Lake Towuti. Unfortunately, though, the project has encountered its first major delay. the persistent issues with the drilling rig hydraulics developed into a major problem, and we are currently unable to do any drilling at all. An engineer from the rig manufacturer is coming today to see if we can identify and hopefully fix the problem. In the meantime, we are doing borehole logging of 1B. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-28 We're continuing to get up to speed with our workflows and are troubleshooting various parts of the rig. We're now at ~150 mblf, and working on our techniques to recover alternating beds of lake clay, gravelly sand, and peat. These sediments represent the earliest stages of formation of Lake Towuti, so we're hoping for some great information on the ecological biological history of the lake. Unfortunately, however, we are having persistent problems with the hydraulic system of the drilling rig, so we may have to spend a day or more working through that. Let's hope it isn't too serious. More soon... (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-27 Yesterday we bottomed out at ~107 mblf in alternating lake and peat beds. The peats, which represent marsh environments, indicate very shallow water and very low lake levels, likely during the early phases of Lake Towuti's formation. The DES team is really coming up to speed with the drilling rig, as are are already at ~100 mblf again. We are working sun-up to sundown, and then all night, and making excellent progress. For the day shift, the sun rises as we're heading out to the barge, and sets as we're heading back. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-25 We are working hard down our first pilot hole. The work is fairly slow, as we are encountering a lot of problems and unexpected lithologies that make for slow drilling. In particular, we are finding a number of thick (maybe 0.4 m) volcanic ashes, likely corresponding to eruptions from North Sulawesi. This is great news for the project, as the tephras should provide very important age control points and will let us ask a number of important questions: What are the impacts of major but distant eruptions on Towuti ecosystems? How frequently do major caldera-forming eruptions occur in Indonesia? It has been hard to adjust for the large changes in hardness and density between these tephras and the soft lake sediments, but the drillers are learning how best to adjust. We're now ~70 meters sub-bottom after 2 days, and the pace is accelerating. After this first pilot hole, we should be able to do a good job on the subsequent holes. We're also working to establish a routine. For me this is wake up at 3:30, deal with any coordination or billing issues from abroad, breakfast at 4:30, a crew shift change starting at 5:30, and then coordinating between the lab work and other groups until the cycle repeats (dinner at 4:30 PM, etc...). (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-24 A series of minor mishaps yesterday and overnight, including a rebuild of a hydraulic line on the drilling rig at the start of night shift. But, at 2:22 AM, the first cores were received on deck. Gonna be exciting to see how everything looks today in the lab! (TDP on facebook) From Chris: While most of the senior members of the project have been transfixed on barge construction, drilling logistics, and machine repair, some of the students have had the opportunity to go out on Lake Towuti to take surface sediment samples. This has provided us the invaluable experience of traversing a fair bit of the lake- taking note of the surface sediment, but also the layout, inflows/outflow, composition of the surrounding forest, and natural beauty of Towuti. Sometimes as scientists studying past climate states, we simply receive sediment in the mail and are divorced from physically experiencing the geography and modern climate and vegetation regime of the locale. It has been totally fulfilling to get a sense for the lake and its environs, in the here and now, as we set our sights on drilling the longest continuous record of hydroclimate change in southeast Asia. Depending on the daily weather (quite volatile), the lake surface can be significantly stormy, or so quiescent as to reflect the blue sky perfectly. In the case of the picture shown, the day had seen both extremes. As we made our way back to port at the village Timampu, we were left with exquisite lighting, as rays shone down through patchy clouds against the backdrop of a mountainous sunset. From Tika: This project is my first experience doing sampling in a lake, including both the surface sediment sample, core sediment samples as well as sample measurements by using Geotek MSCL. I was very fortunate to be able to join early with the geoscience team as I can learn how to sample the surface sediment of the lake and use various tools for measuring core samples. The geology of the research area is important to study before sampling and I got that very well after two days of geological survey field work. Moreover, I can share and exchange ideas with Chris, Marina and Ascelina when we are in the field as well as in discussions in our research house. From Marina: Well, for most people the sight of rain will make them run for shelter, but I have to say, here on Sulawesi at 2°S, this is a pleasant sight. And it's also the reason why we are here we want to take a closer look into the history of rainfall and temperature over the past 600.000 years! With the coring starting off, the time of preparations is now over and we are waiting for the first cores to arrive at the lab. The picture also shows one of the boats, which serve as my alarm clock every morning when they start their engines hearing protection is a good choice when taking one of those boats out for surface sediment sampling as we did in the past couple of days. Other than that there is one very important part of my Indonesian experience missing in the picture: rice! But we're all getting used to that, and actually there is great variety of tastes in the Indonesian cuisine. So we are all settled here in Sorowako we've probably visited each of the many tiny shops in town at least three times (especially the ones which sell cookies) and I'm very much looking forward to welcoming the first sediment cores in the research lab! (TDP on facebook) From Ascelina Hasberg: Three weeks ago we most of the foreign scientists arrived in Jakarta Indonesia. After a week of permitting, getting used to a really interesting Indonesian food world (everyone should try a Durian and Jackfruit, get your own experience), and an off-day with a snorkeling tour we arrived in our final destination Sorowako. The following days were quite exciting: getting the research house ready, check our equipment for pre-drilling-sampling, built a frame for a scientist poster as a team-building-during-strong-rain, getting used to the warm and really humid climate , getting along in the city by car and without a map, learn where to buy special tools and daily goodies, and where to get the best fried egg and cake in Sorowako. In the end of the second week we started surface sampling on Lake Towuti, a really successful and important campaign for data about the different kinds of catchments and transport conditions influenced by several inlets within the N/E/S/W lake basin. We managed it to sample almost the whole lake within four days! During the barge assemblage our sampling boat was used so we did some bedrock and soil sampling for data about the catchment and surrounding of Lake Towuti. The third week ended yesterday with the best part: First nightshift with more than 20 m core recovery! After 6 hours of technical delay due to rig problems we finally hit the lake surface and started coring. It was very exciting to label and cut the first cores. This is the base of all further data analyses about the climate and rainfall change. Hopefully, coring will be successful and we will get a lot of meters for the first regional lacrustrine, sedimentological analyses about past conditions! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-23 Yesterday we towed the barge from our dock in Timampu to our primary drilling site, and anchored nto position. There were a few hiccups; our anchoring boat was a bit underpowered to tow thousands of kilograms of anchor and cable line, so we had to drop the anchors a bit short. But we're in good position, only 60 meters from our intended drill site (in a really big lake). Here's a video of the action. And today, we start coring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-22 Today we went through the final tune up of the barge, and the science team took a tour and safety briefing on the barge supervised by Beau Marshall. For families and friends of everyone here, we're working really hard to prevent any accidents or injuries to all of your loved ones! The group has gotten pretty big now (32 people, with the last three on the way), so it was a scene. After that, the group got the afternoon off to prepare themselves for 30+ days of 12-hour shifts. Some people went to the market to stock up on Oreos and Take It! bars (two fingers of chocolate). A few others transported emergency vehicles to our dock and tried to get last-minute things in the lab working. And others, such as Tim, Cody, and Justin went in search of crocodiles on the Larona River (Towuti's outlet). I would put my money on the three of them over the crocodile in a wrestling match. And we're off!!! These photos mark the launch of the drilling barge on Lake Towuti. Right now we're towing at 3 km/hr to our primary drilling site, with an ETA of 12:30 PM local time. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-21 And here is what a fully assembled drilling barge looks like. Tomorrow we'll do our final system and safety checks, and Beau Marshall will run a safety briefing and tour of the barge for the entire team. There are 29 of us on site now (my head is spinning just a little bit), and there will be 32 tomorrow morning, so the briefing will be quite a scene. We expect to launch our floating drilling civilization on Friday, and I'd put big money on the first samples arriving on deck Saturday. Wish us luck! (TDP on facebook) Most of the geomicrobiologists arrived this morning by bus from Makassar. They will investigate how the unique environmental geochemistry of Lake Towuti has evolved over time via biogeochemical analyses of the drill cores. Lake Towuti stands among the world's largest iron-rich lakes, and the ophiolite surrounding the lake supplies metals that drive important biogeochemical and microbiological processes within the lake. To facilitate the analyses, the geomicrobiologists use a mobile laboratory container that was shipped from the GFZ in Germany called the BUGLab. Today, they've been busy unpacking their shipped materials and getting the BUGLab ready for action. If you've been checking our page sporadically, make sure you like our page, so you won't miss important updates from us. Things will be getting even more exciting when the drilling barge is towed to our first site on Friday „smile“-Emoticon -satrio wicaksono (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-20 Today Ryan and I spent 6 or so hours rebuilding the electronics of the Mag Susc meter on the Geotek. We replaced the boards and wiring- didn't work. We replaced the various cables- didn't work. We reset all comm ports, shifting sensors cabling and other things one by one to the computer- didn't work. In the meantime, the computer failed to boot, so we had to deal with the BIOS again (for the 5th time or so). Didn't work. Then, we put the old electronics board back in the equipment. Works perfectly. You just never know. But finally, we'll get data!!! Meanwhile, the DES team has nearly finished building the barge. Time to finalize our safety review and anchoring plans, as we probably tow the barge out to our drilling sites on Thursday! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-19 This morning we completed loading the final piece of major equipment onto the drilling barge. It was somehow fitting that the last thing we lifted using our enormous 220T crane was . . . (drum roll) a crane. Yes, just a small crane that we will use for loading and unloading supplies from the drilling barge. The major components are now assembled, and we are hoping to finish all of the detailed work (hooking up hydraulics, electrical systems, etc.) over the next two days. We also received the "BugLab" from the GFZ today, unpacked it, and installed it in Sorowako. There it will reside for sample processing and experimental work by the Geomicrobiology team. As you can see, getting it to the research area was an interesting experience. Our friend Pak Anto (aka Simpleman) from CKB was really helpful in this. The last photo is from yesterday. A couple of people have asked me how all those barge containers are secured together into a solid piece. As you can see from the picture, the answer is with 350 pound screws. An important aspect of the drilling project is our outreach efforts to local stakeholders. Over the past week, we have met with the Bupati (district head) and many of his staff members and subordinates to discuss our project. In addition, we had meetings with district- and subdistrict-level police officers as well as local community leaders. Curious throngs of local villagers have also been visiting our barge construction site, and we've been very much enjoying our conversations with them about or project. Given the size of the project (and the huge size of our heavy equipments), some of the people we met thought we're going to do an oil and gas exploration! Thankfully we've been able to clarify a few misconceptions some people had about our project. As the project is progressing, we would certainly like to continue our conversation with local stakeholders, as their continuous support is critical to the success of our project. A huge thanks to Sulvi Suardi and Sinyo Rio for their assistance with our local outreach efforts. -satrio wicaksono (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-18 Sorowako, also spelled Soroako, is a small mining town situated next to Lake Matano. The town serves as our home base throughout the entire project. Most of our project participants stay here, and Sorowako is also where our field research laboratory is located. From Sorowako, it takes about 40 minutes to reach Timampu, a village on the shore of Lake Towuti where we have been building our drilling barge. This picture was taken yesterday afternoon from the top of a hill just south of Sorowako. Hendrik and I were sampling different types of bedrock from the region, when we came across this lovely view of Sorowako and Lake Matano. The bedrock sampling is important because we want to understand the chemical and physical characteristics of the materials that get weathered and eventually end up in the lake as layers of sediment. -satrio wicaksono (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-17 Our pace is accelerating. We started before dawn, and the team finished building the barge and assembled the mud tanks, drilling rig, drill rod, and work container into place. It's really starting to look like a drilling barge! We also received and launched our emergency boat (let's hope we never have to use it)- all of the boat launches were occupied with people washing cars so we had to crane it into the water. . A major thanks is due to the construction services team from PT Vale Indonesia, who worked hard all day with us with the crane, and to CKB Logistics for their help with trucking and container movements. It was a good, productive day- good enough to mark the occasion with a group photo at the end. Today was also the first day in about 20 years since I've driven a forklift- really brought back memories! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-16 Today was a day of crane lifts and troubleshooting while we began assembling the drilling barge in our port in Timampu. We started with a 5 AM breakfast, and worked all day to assemble the barge. Things started well, but we quickly found our little replacement forklift doesn't work well on the gravel, requiring that we tow it with a pickup. Then, one of the barge containers got jammed during assembly, which delayed us by several hours. The DES team eventually sent down a diver to try to attach cleats to the bottom of the barge to link everything together. Hours in a Neoprene suit in an 85 degree lake in the tropical sun... not much fun. But by the end of the day we managed to get all 13 of our containers transferred from our staging area to the port, and got ~75% of the barge built. Tomorrow, we'll finish off the barge, and start loading drilling gear. On a personal note, it's enormously exciting to see this all coming together. I can't help but grin as I see years and years of work coming to fruition. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-15 Today the DOSECC Exploration Services crew arrived and things are kicking into full swing. They arrive in style, and during our tour of their new surrounding they engaged in the latest Indonesian craze of ring shopping. Meanwhile, Hendrik and team began sampling surface sediments from around the Mahalona River delta. This is important to understanding the signals of changes in the river and delta systems in our sediment cores as the lake level rises and falls. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-14 Another day in paradise. The Geotek continued its petulance- today the computer failed due to a dead battery on the motherboard. After replacing and rebuilding the BIOS (yucky), we have at least determined the problem is an electronics board for the magnetics meter. A new board is en route from Geotek, and rebuilding a stack of electronics boards is in my near future. Otherwise, a new team member arrived today, Kartika Kirana, a PhD student at ITB who will investigate magnetic properties of the Towuti cores for her PhD. Welcome Tika! We took her down to a stormy but beautiful Lake Towuti this afternoon to set up our sampling and supply vessel. And this evening, a busload of drillers left Makassar bound for Sorowako. We'll be seeing them, krating daeng in hand, first thing tomorrow morning. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-13 The drillers went to the immigration office in Makassar to get their photographs taken today. In the first photo, taken while waiting at the office, they appeared a bit anxious as it took a while before the immigration official started calling them one by one for the photo-taking. They're also still adjusting to the heat and humidity of the tropics. As you can see from the photo, they were all converging near the AC system! In the second photo, taken right after all the immigration photographs have been taken, the drillers looked far more relaxed. Tika, another member of the drilling project from ITB in Bandung, arrived in Makassar this morning. Tika and I then went to the provincial forestry office to get the permits needed to do research in conservation areas such as Lakes Towuti and Matano. The permits were secured, and now we have cleared almost all official permits we need to do the drilling. As I am writing this post, Tika is riding the overnight bus to Sorowako! -satrio wicaksono An eventful day in Timampu, South Sulawesi. Satria and I started the day early at the Balantang port, helping with transfer of the T3W drilling rig from its flatrack to a lowboy. At ~40,000 lbs, it's a tricky lift. It's an even trickier thing to truck around, as even on a lowboy it is 4.5 meters tall. That was tall enough to require that we remove a couple sections of power line on the main road, cutting power to parts of the town. The things we do for science. But 5 hours after leaving the port, thanks in no small part to the folks at CKB logistics, the rig arrived at the Towuti shoreline. We got rig! And, in the middle of all the action, team member Chris Kelly rose from the dead (flu)! All in all, a great day. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-12 Another day spent setting up, mostly tracing wiring through electronics boards on our core logger. Not the most exciting thing, and we haven't fixed the problem but at least we found that we can use the logger in semi-manual mode to log core. It will only involve someone pushing a button about 25,000 times to make the measurements. Geotek trigger finger? The drillers (eight of them) from DOSECC Exploration arrived in Jakarta yesterday, and so today they went to RISTEK to get their research permits. After securing the permits, the team, headed by Beau Marshall (second from left), then went back to the airport to catch a Garuda flight to Makassar. The DOSECC drillers arrived at the Makassar airport. Makassar is famous for its seafood, and some of them told me they can't wait to get some of the freshest seafood in town! If all goes well in Makassar with residency permit processing, we should get to Sorowako near Lake Towuti on Thursday morning. -satrio wicaksono (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-11 We spent the day setting up the research lab and ran into a pretty big snag. We have a machine (a Geotek MSCL) for measuring the physical properties of the cores, including their magnetic properties, which is very important for our research. Something must have gotten jostled during shipping, as the magnetic sensor is not working. As you can see, Ryan is horrified. I think (hope?) we'll get it working, but it's going to be days spent chasing down electronics problems on a complicated system. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-09 Today the expat science team arrived at Sorowako: Hendrik Vogel, Sarah Ivory, Ryan O'Grady, Ascelina Hasberg, Chris Kelly, Marina Morlock. They made it to the site after a 13.5 hour overnight bus ride variably described as "luxurious", "festive", and "crippling". We spent the day organizing the research lab, gathering supplies, and orienting the new folks to Sorowako. In the evening, we commemorated the event with a Padang meal. Special kudos goes to Sarah, who ate not only rendang and beef liver, but also beef brains! Tomorrow some hard work begins: unpacking some containers in the tropical heat, and setting up the our core logging equipment. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-08 Another "restful" day before the drillers arrive and the madness begins. In this case, restful equals financial accounting, setting up supply chains, chasing down a forklift order, meetings to confirm crane use, meeting with the Bupati, confirming supply, crew transfer, and towing boat availability, chasing the forklift order some more... What a day. But at the very end, we made it down to the Towuti shore, and it was a beautiful day. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-07 Another day, another government office. Satria, Imran, Hafidz, and I spent the morning meeting with officials from the forestry department in Makassar to obtain our final (final, final, final) piece of permitting paperwork. Not done yet, but it will work out now. We then got on board a plane (the 6th plane of this trip so far), and after an hour descended out of the clouds over Lake Towuti (left-hand photo). It was a sight for sore eyes. We spent the afternoon on errands (the new task for the coming week)- rechecking the equipment, checking housing for the team, chasing a bank transfer from Germany, measuring the research house yard for parking a 40' trailer... you get the picture. Really looking forward to getting the whole team here next week! (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-06 The project is moving along smoothly. Here are some updates from us: 1) Yours truly delivered a talk about the project at LIPI earlier today 2) The drillers finally received their visas from the Indonesian Consulate in Los Angeles, and they will arrive in Jakarta this Sunday 3) Our project members who arrived in Makassar yesterday just got their photographs taken at the immigration office Meanwhile, our co-PIs, James Russell and Satria Bijaksana, will be arriving in Sorowako/Lake Towuti tomorrow. It's getting real now. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-04 Today has been a busy day in Jakarta for our project. In addition to Jim Russell from Brown, who is spearheading the whole project with Satria Bijaksana from the Bandung Institute of Technology, six other foreign researchers from Germany and the USA have now arrived in Jakarta. More scientists, as well as the drillers, will arrive in Jakarta over the next two weeks. After spending one day in Jakarta to obtain the research permit, each of them will spend a couple of days in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi, to process temporary residency permit. After that, they may go to Sorowako, the closest town from Lake Towuti. (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-03 As Jim said in a previous post, he is currently in the Big Durian. Welcome to Jakarta, Jim! Selamat datang di Jakarta! Here's a picture of him in an auto rickshow, called bajaj by Jakartans. It was raining yesterday evening, so we took a bajaj to get us to our meeting with the folks who will be filming the Towuti Drilling Project. It is early morning now in Jakarta. In a few hours, we will be at the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education office to start processing our research permits. -satrio wicaksono (TDP on facebook)
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2015-05-01 Today the project officially begins. I said goodbye to beautiful Rhode Island and my lovely wife for the next two months and got on a plane bound for Jakarta. On Monday we continue our 'vigorous discussion' with Jakarta immigration and hopefully finalize our research permits and visas once and for all. Wish us luck, and look for our posts here as we anticipate we'll finally start drilling in about 2 weeks! Jim R. (TDP on facebook)
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