US 3714996 A
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Feb. 6, 1973 E. B. DANE. JR 3,714,996
UNDERSEA CURING MACHINE WITH MEANS FOR SHPARATING SAMPLES Filed Aug. 10, 1971 2 SheetsShwt 1 I 79 I00 71 6 7e IL 70 L 72 so '5 23 I 3| 4| I? lOl J 7 k\i\\\\\\\\l I02 29 I II J 1 N Feb. 6, 1973 E. a. DANE. JR 3,714,996
UNDERSEA CORING MACHINE WITH MEANS FOR SEPARATING SAMPLES Filed Aug. 10, 1971 2 Sheets-Sheet I S United States Patent US. Cl. 175-6 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The machine, intended for operation at ocean depths up to several miles, comprises a generally triangular platform with a motor-operated auger at each corner by which it may be attached to the ground, and a centrally situated coring tube with which are associated means for raising and lowering the tube, and means for inserting plastic spacers between successive samples. The whole is connected by a cable to a ship. The tube is driven and withdrawn by operation of an eccentric vibrator coacting with a biasing lead screw and flexible strut. A supply of saucer-like disks is contained in a magazine situated vertically and parallel to the sampling tube, and transfer means are provided to slide the bottom disk out of the magazine, and to press it up into the bottom of the sampling tube past the check valve in its foot.
This invention relates to mining and more particularly to an improved sampling machine to take samples of the bottom of the ocean at great depth so that subsequent mining operations using the deep seascraper system described in my copending application Ser. No. 148,853 filed June 1, 1971 may be conducted in areas to produce a maximum yield of minerals such as manganese modules.
Manganese modules occur on the bottoms of all the deep sea basins. Over a large part of the Pacific Ocean, they contain enough copper, nickel, and cobalt, as well as manganese, to be commercially attractive for exploitation if practical means are available to overcome the disadvantages inherent in conducting operations at great depth and on the high seas. Such means are described in the abovementioned application; but it will be apparent that the yield from operations with any machinery will vary from place to place depending upon the richness of deposits. It is plainly desirable to mine the richer deposits first; and to do this there must be a means to test the bottom, not only on the ground but to a reasonable depth below it so that the concentration of minerals per unit areas may be determined. While it may be possible to assay the sea floor by methods involving in-situ tests, it is believed that the collection of samples for subsequent analysis at the surface is the preferred approach.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a machine which may be operated at great depth to collect samples of the ocean bottom by coring so that the several strata of the bottom are maintained in their relative positions. It is a further object of the invention to provide for a succession of ocean floor cores at different places on the ocean floor without raising the equipment from the depths between cores.
A still further object of the invention is to maintain a separation between such successive cores so that each may be identified with its source.
The means by which these objects is achieved is a sampler rig lowered from a ship and equipped to be remotely controlled to anchor itself to the ocean floor there to take a sample, and thereafter to detach from the fioor to situate at subsequent points of interest.
A feature of this rig is the means for anchoring which 3,714,996 Patented Feb. 6, 1973 are preferably augers located at the corners of the rig and operated by electric motors.
A further feature is a sampling tube which is depressed into the bottom by a vibrator; and a still further feature is a mechanism for inserting between successive samples plastic disks, which pass through the check valve at the foot of the sampling tube.
Another feature of the invention by which the above objects are attained is a plastic spacer disk concave, yet non-nesting. A second feature is a cylindrical magazine for these disks and means for transferring the disks one at a time to the open end of a sampling tube.
The invention accordingly comprises the features of construction, combination of elements, and arrangement of parts, which will be exemplified in the constructions hereinafter set forth, and the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.
For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a partially cut-away side assembly view of the sampling rig;
FIG. 2 is a schematic drawing of the means for inserting separator disks which is a part of the rig of FIG. 1, and
'FIG. 3 represents an alternative disk-transfer mechanism for the apparatus of FIG. 1.
Referring now to FIG. l. A platform 10 is attached to the ocean floor by augers 11, 12 and supports a sampling tube 15 vertically into which samples 16, 17 are accumulated separated by disks 21.
In describing the samples of FIG. 1, it will be convenient to describe first the apparatus of FIG. 2 by which plastic separator disks 21, contained in a magazine 23 are inserted into the sampling tube 15, passing through the check valve 27.
At the conclusion of the sampling operation to be described below, the sampling tube is withdrawn from the ocean floor, the valve 27 closing to prevent loss of the sample. The tube is maintained vertical by hoisting means (not shown) and by the structure of the rig, as Will be detailed. When the bottom of the tube 15 is well clear of the ocean floor by about thirty centimeters, it is in alignment with the transfer plate 29 which is slid under the pipe by means such as the gear motor 31, or the crank 33 hearing in a slot 35. The transfer plate 29 has a stepped hole 37 which in one extreme of its motion is situated to accept one disk from the magazine 23, and in its other extreme position is situated to deliver a disk 21 to the sampling tube 15.
The depth of the hole 37, and the shoulder 39 are proportioned to fit the plastic disks 21 so that as the transfer plate 29 deals one disk from the bottom of the stack as it is advanced by the motor 31 and carries that disk into direct alignment with the tube 15. A switch (not shown) stops the motor 31 and starts the motor 41, which in turn drives a gear 43, which turns on and advances the threaded jackscrew 45. The lower end of the jackscrew 45 is a hook 47 comprising a radially extending arm 49 and an upwardly pointing finger 51.
Because of friction between the mating threaded portions of the gear 43 and the screw 45, the first tendency of the screw is to turn with the gear 43. This turning motion is stopped when the arm 49 contacts the stop pin 55. An electric current passing through a coil 58 linking the pin 55 creates an electromagnetic attraction to hold the hook 47 in contact with the pin 55. With continued rotation, the finger 51 rises, displacing upward from its seat on the shoulder 39 any disk 21 brought to that station by the transfer plate 29. Depending on conditions, the disk may be inserted to reach the bottom of the check valve 27 and be forced ahead of the next sample through the valve 27, or may be pushed through the valve by operation of the finger 51. When the predetermined height is reached, a limit switch (not shown) reverses the motor 41 so that the finger may be lowered and swung aside to contact a back stop pin 65. Motor 31 is then reversed to remove the transfer plate 39. Whereupon the sampling tube may be lowered to take another sample.
Referring back to FIG. 1, the tube 15 is restrained to vertical motion by a guide 70 fastened to the platform by supports 72, 73. At the top of the tube and fastened to it by a collar 75 is the eccentric drive mechanism comprising a drive motor 76 and a pair of counterrotating unbalanced wheels 77, 78 with weight 79. They may be geared as shown, or operate coaxially. The amount of unbalance on each of the wheels is the same and it is so phased that the horizontal component of the resulting vibration is cancelled, and the vertical component is augmented. Such a vibrator exerts an oscillating up and down force on the tube 15 which when added to the weight of the tube tends to drive it downward. Alternatively the force may be biased upward by a steady upward force to move the tube 15 upward.
Biasing force is applied through an elastic strut 80 which is connected at one end to the tube 15 by the collar 82 and at the other end is fastened to a nut 84 which engages a lead screw 86 and is guided by a guide rod 88. The lead screw '86 may be driven in either direction selectively by a gear motor 90. The force in the strut varies from a minimum to a maximum value. It is not necessary for the gear motor to overcome the friction between the screw 86 and the nut 84 at maximum force, only at the minimum. When the motor 90 turns the screw 86 to urge the nut 84 upward, the tube 15 is raised. Reversing the motor 90 lowers the tube 15.
The collar 82 is clamped to the tube 15 by screw 92 driven by a motor 94 to permit the taking of deeper cores than provided for by the length of the lead screw 86.
To take a sample the equipment is lowered by a cable 100 to the desired spot, the sampling tube raised. The platform is then secured to the ocean floor by operation of motors 101 and 102 with a third motor (not shown) which drive the augers 11 and 12, and a third into the bottom.
The tube 15 is then lowered by operation of the lead screw motor 90 and vibrator motor 76.
The depth of sample may be measured and controlled by well-known means (not shown). Then by reversal of the motor 90, the core tube 15 is withdrawn to its upper position with its bottom above the transfer plate 29. By operation of motors 31 and 41 as above described, a plastic disk 21 is slid from the magazine 23 and pressed upward into the tube 15, sealing 01f the first sample. Reversal of the motor 41 and further operation of the motor 31 clears the way for the tube to be lowered again. The equipment is then released from the bottom by reversing the auger drive motors 101, 102, and towed to a new location where the process is repeated.
When several samples have been taken, the static friction between the samples and the inside of the sampling tube becomes very great so that even if a steady force of sufficient magnitude were available to press the tube into the bottom, a new sample might not enter the bottom of the tube. The vibrating drive system allows the friction to be overcome by the inertia of the individual samples, so that the samples are effectively pushed throughout their length not merely from the end. Similarly the motor 76 may be operated to assist the motor 41 to lift the samples ahead of the plastic disk being inserted.
While the above-described mechanical apparatus shown schematically, may be built by persons skilled in the art to accomplish the invention, it should be understood that the foregoing description is by way of illustration and not limitation. In particular hydraulic means may in some cases be the equivalent or preferred to the electromechani- 4 cal means disclosed. FIG. 3 represents a hydraulic variation of the disk insertion apparatus.
A magazine 123 is provided as in the apparatus of FIG. 2 to contain the spacers 121. These spacers comprise a sturdy flat top portion 122 with a rounded edge, and a cylindrical skirt 124, and at least one thin rib 125 extending vertically to prevent nesting of the disks. As shown the rib is a cylinder having about half the diameter of the tube 15, and extends downward to touch the top of the underlying disk when the disks are stacked keeping the skirt of its disk from settling around the shoulder of the lower disk, and allowing the bottom one to be slid away sideways. The transfer plate 129 is somewhat deeper in section than the plate 29, since it supports the force of ramming the disks into the sampling tube 15. It slides between the magazine 123 and the platform 10 and contains two cylindrical bores, an axial bore 130 and a vertical bore 132. The axial bore contains the ram piston 134 which is anchored to the platform 10 and contains a central opening 136 through which the actuating hydraulic fluid is pumped. The vertical bore houses a telescoping hydraulic jack which is fed by a channel 138 which is uncovered to the hydraulic fluid pressure only when the piston 134 is fully extended.
The thin rib 125 of the disk 121 drops into a cylindrical groove 140 in the ram face 142 of the hydraulic jack. When the face 142 advances against the valve 27, contact is made between the lowermost two points of the valve and diametrically opposed points on the shoulder of the disk 121 and some mangling of the plastic at these points results, and as the valve opens, the disk 121 is pulled toward the valve hinge by friction at these points. The rib 125 and the groove 140 oppose this force and keep the disk 121 generally centered as it is pushed past the valve.
The top surface of the face 142 is generally roughened to help prevent side-slipping and also to help separation when the ram is withdrawn. Because of the very high ambient pressure, very adequate forces are available to withdraw the head when reversal of hydraulic flow carries fluid away from the head through the channel 138 and the opening 136. It will be understood that such modifications and variations may be made in the invention as understood in the art.
It will also be understood that power to operate the equipment may be transmitted through multiple conductors in the cable 100; and signal circuits to monitor its operation may also be carried in the cable. Power may also be supplied by storage batteries and communications maintained acoustically as is well known in the art.
The foregoing description of an embodiment of the invention being by way of illustration only, the scope of the invention is defined in the following claims.
1. Apparatus for coring the ocean fioor comprising,
(a) a horizontally extending platform,
(b) means for securing said platform to the ground,
(c) a long cylindrical core tube having a check valve at its foot and a vibrating driver at its head,
(d) means for constraining said tube to vertical motion and to said platform,
(e) means including said vibrating driver for raising said tube relative to said platform and for pressing said tube into the ground to take a sample,
(f) a plurality of spacer disks,
(g) a magazine for stowing said disks, and
(h) means for transferring said disks one at a time and for inserting them into the foot of said tube.
2. Apparatus as defined by claim 1 wherein (i) said disks are dished concave downward with vertical ribs to prevent nesting.
3. Apparatus asdefined by claim 1 wherein (i) said vibrating driver comprises apair of unbalanced wheels counter-rotating about horizontal parallel axes.
4. Apparatus as defined by claim 1 wherein,
(i) said magazine is a cylinder disposed parallel to said tube, and
(j) said means for transferring slides the bottom disk in said magazine sideways to a position under said tube in an elevated position, and press said disk upward into said tube.
5. Apparatus as defined by claim 4 wherein (i) said means for transferring comprises a transfer plate having a vertical bore to accept one of said disks with the top of said disk flush with the top of said plate, means for sliding said plate sideways to position said bore coaxial with said tube, and a ram for pressing said disk upward out of said bore into said tube.
6. Apparatus as defined by claim 4 wherein (k) said means for raising includes a lead screw, a nut riding on said lead screw, and an elastic coupling between said nut and said tube.
7. Apparatus as defined by claim 6 wherein (1) said means for transferring comprises a transfer plate having a vertical bore to accept one of said disks with the top of said one disk flush with the top of said plate, means for sliding said plate sideways to position said bore coaxial with said tube, and a ram for pressing said disk upward out of said bore into said tube.
8. Apparatus as defined by claim 7 wherein (k) said means for transferring comprises a transfer plate having a vertical bore to accept one of said disks with the top of said one disk flush with the top of said plate, means for sliding said plate sideways to position said bore coaxial with said tube, and a ram for pressing said disk upward out of said bore into said tube.
9. Apparatus as defined by claim 1 wherein (i) said means for raising includes a lead screw, a nut,
riding on said lead screw, and. an elastic coupling between said nut and said tube.
10. Apparatus as defined by claim 9 wherein,
(i) said magazine is a cylinder disposed parallel to said tube.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,565,906 12/1925 Clinton 175240 3,194,326 7/1965 Bodine 175-56 3,373,827 3/1968 Biron 17556 3,442,339 5/ 1969 Williamson l--6 3,670,830 6/1972 Van der Wijden -243 MARVIN A. CHAMPION, Primary Examiner 5 R. E. FAVREAU, Assistant Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R.