The 32.6-nmi transit to Site 1259 was made in 4 hr at an average speed of 8.15 kt. As the ship settled on the site's coordinates, a positioning beacon was launched at 1208 hr on 1 February 2003, initiating operations at Site 1259.
The same rotary core barrel (RCB) bottom-hole assembly used at the previous sites was deployed, tagging the seafloor at 2365.0 meters below rig floor (mbrf) (2353.8 mbsl). Hole 1259A was spudded at 1830 hr on 1 February and RCB cored from 0 to 391.1 mbsf. Poor recovery in Cores 41R and 42R and elevated pump pressures suggested an obstructed bit. The bit deplugger was dropped two times before pump pressures indicated the bit was clear. Coring resumed in Hole 1259A to 558.8 mbsf, recovering a total of 60 cores (average recovery = 66.6%) (Table T1). With the depth objective achieved, the hole was filled with sepiolite mud and the drill string was retracted. While pulling out of the hole, 20,000–30,000 lb of drag was noted, mostly in the upper section of the hole, probably the result of caving Neogene foraminifer sands. The bit cleared the rig floor at 0300 hr on 4 February, ending Hole 1259A. Continued operations at Site 1259 were postponed because a nonaccident-related medical evacuation of one of the ship's crew was required. After retraction of the thrusters and hydrophones and retrieval of the beacon, the ship departed for Barbados for the evacuation that was to be followed by operations at Site 1260 before returning to Site 1259.
We departed the Site 1260 operational area and returned to Site 1259, offsetting 130 m northeast of Hole 1259A. Hole 1259B was spudded at 0830 hr on 13 February, and we recovered an RCB core (Core 1R) at 0–9.6 mbsf. The hole was washed from 9.6 to 305.0 mbsf, cored from 305.0 to 381.9 mbsf, washed from 381.9 to 420.5 mbsf, and cored from 420.5 to 556.2 mbsf (average recovery = 69.2% in the cored intervals) (Table T1). With the depth objective achieved, the hole was displaced with 150 bbl of sepiolite mud for abandonment. The bit was pulled clear of the seafloor at 2135 hr on 14 February, ending operations in Hole 1259B.
The ship was offset 60 m southwest of Hole 1259B (i.e., back toward Hole 1259A), and Hole 1259C was spudded at 2300 hr on 14 February. The hole was drilled from 0 to 308 mbsf, RCB cored from 308.0 to 373.3 mbsf, drilled from 373.3 to 436.0 mbsf, RCB cored from 436.0 to 445.6 mbsf, drilled from 445.6 to 480.0 mbsf, and RCB cored from 480.0 to 553.7 mbsf (recovery = 80.0% in the cored intervals) (Table T1). With the science objectives achieved, the hole was displaced with 172 bbl of sepiolite mud for abandonment. The bit was pulled clear of the rotary table at 1315 hr on 16 February, officially ending Hole 1259C.