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In 1995, with the US Geological Survey, I did a research drilling project for global climate change studies in Death Valley National Monument USA.  We were allowed, by the park service, to do the project in the monument as a no impact drilling project.  The arrow at the left shows the location of the drill rig from a vantage point high on the adjacent mountain.  The rig was flown in and assembled in eight different  sections using a Hughes 500 helicopter from South Coast Helicopters of California. The project started out in nearly nine inches of water in the spring of the year. This provided us with some interesting moments, needless to say, during the assembly. Imagine the mast or tall blue section (nearly 1200 pounds) in the lower picture being placed into 3/4 inch holes by helicopter while the water is moving from prop wash. Vertigo would become an issue as all fixed frame of reference was lost in the movement. Exciting to say the least. After the initial setup all participants walked in from the bad-water side of the lake (helicopter time is much too expensive). This was a 2 1/2 mile walk twice a day in water to start and finally on very white salt hardpan after the water had gone away.

Temperatures would range from 55 degrees to nearly 130 degrees. The wind would literally blow the water to one end of the lake or the other and the mud flats at each end provided a catchment so each calm after the storm would return less water to the site. All related equipment and supplies were flown in and out by helicopter. The research drilling was underway in two days and we were on site for nearly fifty days. The drilling equipment was a Longyear -38 using a Christensen wire-line core system. The drill hole was continuously cored from top to bottom and used a saturated salt water based drilling fluid to allow for us to core the salts without dissolving them and look at the fluid inclusions for the necessary representative data. Upon completion all the related materials and core were flown out and the site was restored. This was accomplished using non native salts and saturated salt water from the site taken in the outset and stored in a large tanks. The salt was spread and the area flooded to allow a new sun-baked skin of salt to completely eliminate any signs we were there.

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