Sorry it took so long to get back! hopefully you are still in helping mode!
ipstenu: I have unlimited tables
Andrea_r: there doesn't seem to be a problem with the collation setting.
No super admin is able to create new sub-domains, my host claims the connection from the main site (www.provocate.org) to the DB is fine, and we have not made any unusual changes to the site itself.
yesterday another problem cropped up - one super admin, not myself, was not able to add posts correctly. When they where published only the titles showed up, but not text. He created a new super admin account and the problem was fixed. This may be unrelated, but I thought with all the little problems we seem to be having, might there be a bug on the WP side that could be causing all of our problems?
really out of my depth here haha. Any help is appreciated!